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Rick Worthington Part 2: Push for Industrial Hemp
by Rick Worthington, click here for bio

Program: Farm and Ranch Report
Date: February 27, 2019

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Part 2: Push for Industrial Hemp

Several state lawmakers - where industrial hemp is currently illegal - want to get hemp into production as soon as possible for farmers.

Doug Sombke represents a Farmers Union and says farmers are desperate to diversify their cash crops.

"We really need another tool in the toolbox for farmers to use, and we're not telling you you've got to use it - it's just another opportunity," he said. "That's all we're looking for. We're trying to find a way - as many ways as possible, actually - for farmers to be successful."

The 2018 Farm Bill legalized the cultivation of industrial hemp. The ancient plant is known to have more than 25,000 possible uses, from dietary supplements and skin-care products to clothing.

Hemp is also a cousin of Marijuana - which is where the stigma against hemp comes from.

Sombke looked to Montana, which had 22,000 acres of hemp in cultivation last year. Sombke is in Idaho, which is widley considered one of the most conservative states in the West - and says he doesn't want farmers to get left behind.

That's what I fear, that we're going to be 50th again," he said. "I know there are some that are saying, 'Well, you know, let somebody else do it and then we'll jump in later.' Well, that's not how it always works, right? I mean, I think we've got producers that are just as good as any other state, and are just as smart."

Forty-three states already have begun introducing hemp into their agricultural mix, with states like Minnesota now gearing up for significant expansion this year.

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