Hemp farmers ready to get going

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Hundreds of Kansas farmers are preparing to grow hemp in the state for the first time. But with the planting season quickly approaching, some farmers are worried because their license to grow hasn’t been approved.

Hemp farming was passed into law last year and the deadline to apply for a license passed on March 1.

The current law allows farmers to grow hemp for research only.

“Hopefully we’ll generate some interesting information about what it means to grow industrial hemp in Kansas as a new product,” said Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Heather Lansdowne.

“It’s fairly limited so we hope that will help farmers in the future.”

Kelly Rippel, co-founder of the group, Kansans for Hemp, knows many of the farmers that have applied for licenses.

“The research proposal has to demonstrate that they’re actually going to be doing some testing, gathering data, reporting that data,” Rippel said.

370 people applied for licenses this year. Those people include growers, distributors and processors.
So far only 19 of 238 growing licenses have been approved.

“The number was high, 370 was quite a bit so, and so we’re working our way through those,” said Lansdowne.

Some farmers were hesistant to get involved in the new industry but are pleased with the structure they’ve seen so far.

“Overall we’re hearing a lot of positive feedback and input from farmers who are looking for another commodity to be able to diversify,” said Rippel.

Last week the Legislature passed another hemp bill that would extend the application period into the summer. 

It would also form a commercial hemp program next year, where people could grow hemp without the research requirement.

The bill passed with only three lawmakers voting against it. It now heads to Governor Kelly’s desk.

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