The NuHemp Group, a Sioux City, IA based company is hosting an Industrial Hemp forum on March 9 (tentatively) at the Sioux City Public Museum. This forum will focus on learning more about industrial hemp and its agricultural, environmental and economic benefits This is free to the public. Farmers, entrepreneurs, and ag industry stakeholders are encouraged to attend.

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Before the holidays last year, the Federal Farm Bill was signed into law by President Trump. One of the highlighted portions of the 871-page bill was the complete legalization of industrial hemp. This is good news for farmers who are looking for a third rotational crop or cover crop, or for various water quality or soil benefit uses.

In 2014, the federal government reintroduced hemp – a non-psychoactive cousin of marijuana – on a pilot program basis. States were permitted to adopt a pilot project in regards to the growth of hemp, and at the end of 2018, 41 states had opted to adopt such programs. Iowa was one of nine that did not.

However, as hemp was still in the federal Controlled Substances Act, several barriers stood in the way of allowing the industry to flourish as farmers were limited in how they could grow. The 2018 Farm Bill removes hemp, defined as a cannabis plant with a maximum level of .3 percent THC, from the federal controlled substances act and rightfully treats it as the agricultural commodity it is.

Hemp is no stranger to our state. Previous generations of Iowans grew acres of this versatile crop during World War II for military uniforms, plane engine lubricant, rope, and parachutes. While the types of products have changed since the 1940’s, Americans remain the largest consumers of hemp products globally, and now the products commonly sought are cosmetic and beauty products, food, paper, construction materials, and apparel fiber. The future of hemp also includes biofuels and plastics.

Last year in Iowa, the Senate passed an industrial hemp bill (Senate File 2398) unanimously, but the bill was not taken up in the House. With the guidance of the 2018 Farm Bill, farmers, processors, and retailers alike are eager for Iowa to pass legislation that will implement a hemp growing program in the state.