Kansas could see commercial hemp program later this year

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – It was a big year for hemp in 2019. Now Kansas lawmakers are looking to what 2020 has in store.

Last year, hemp farmers had to grow the crop for research. Now the state is on track to allow commercial production for the first time.

The Kansas Department of Agriculture will need approval from the USDA and time to formulate its own rules and regulations.

The commercial program would let growers have more freedom. They could plant more hemp and they wouldn’t have to perform research on it, and could just sell it.

“The commercial program eliminates that requirement, but still has rules and regulations in place that are similar for growing requirements, but just eliminates the research component,” said Jeff Vogel, program manager for plant protection and weed control at the Kansas Department of Agriculture.

Last year, nearly 200 people had licenses to grow hemp in the state. In total, they planted 2,700 acres, but only 1,700 of that were harvested.

The department of agriculture says about 90 percent of that was grown for CBD production.

Agriculture officials say 2019 was all about learning, both for the department and for farmers.

“A lot of moisture during the summer and the struggles with trying to get a crop established, pest control, weed control was all very important to them, so certainly I would say this is more of a learning year, and I hope next year will be, as far as a yield goes, be better for the farmers,” Vogel said.

The hope is to have the new program and new regulations in place by planting season in May.

Research licenses would turn into commercial growing licenses if the new program is approved. If the program does not get approved, 2020 would still be a research-only year.

Hemp growers had to apply by November 30 in order to grow hemp in 2020.

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