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Hemp program under creation

Hemp program under creation

Famers in Iowa may be allowed to plant up to 40 acres of hemp

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

Farmers in a Midwestern state could be allowed to plant a new crop legalized for cultivation by the 2018 Farm Bill.

Lawmakers are considering the Iowa Hemp Act in the state legislature.

The law sets out regulations on potential hemp production in the state. The Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, for example, would issue licenses to farmers wishing to produce hemp. And producers would be limited to growing only 40 acres of the crop.

The USDA must ultimately approve the plan. But the hemp bill’s 36 sponsors are confident the crop can fit into Iowa’s crop rotation.

“I think there’s potential for an alternative crop for Iowa farmers,” Tim Kapucian, a Republican state senator, farmer from Keystone, Iowa, and bill sponsor, told the Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier.

Producers agree.

Sales of hemp products are estimated to each US$1.9 billion by 2022, Hemp Business Journal reports.

Entering the hemp market while it’s still relatively young would benefit farmers, said Bill Shipley, a soybean producer from Nodaway, Iowa, and president of the Iowa Soybean Association.

“I would be interested in producing hemp. As a matter of fact, my son and I were just discussing it the other day,” he told Farms.com. “The crop can be used in so many ways, so there wouldn’t be an issue finding a market for it.

“The challenge now, in addition to the lawmaking side of it, is finding hemp processors. Once all the infrastructure is in place it will run much smoother, but it could also be more competitive for farmers.”

Supporters are confident they can present a bill to Gov. Kim Reynolds before this year’s legislative session ends.

“I hope (the bill) passes and I hope it opens up new markets,” Kevin Kinney, a Democratic senator and farmer from Oxford, Iowa, told the Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier. “One of the things I’ve been looking at is trying to find things to stimulate economic growth in rural areas. I’m optimistic with how this is proceeding at this point.”

Iowa is among the last remaining U.S. states that doesn’t allow any hemp cultivation.

Idaho, South Dakota, Ohio, Connecticut, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas are the others.

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