MASON CITY, Iowa - Industrial production of hemp was legalized in the recent federal Farm Bill, and with a little more than a week before the start of the 2019 legislative session in Iowa, we are hearing if hemp will be on the state agenda.
Last year, the Iowa Senate introduced a bill that would allow industrial hemp production, but it died in the House. New legislation is expected to be introduced this year.
Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller and state agriculture officials are set to meet later this month to discuss what regulations should be put in place.
State Senator Waylon Brown says that if lawmakers pass a hemp production law, there are some concerns he would like to see addressed.
"The way hemp gets harvested versus corn is different, so there's going to be some equipment costs for farmers. Also where are the markets going to be and are those established?"
While he hasn't heard much from farmers in his district about taking an interest in growing hemp, it's all the buzz among his constituents.
"I know some of the other Senators have had more interest than I've had in North Iowa, but...it's fresh and it happened right before the holidays, and you have to take that into consideration, too. I expect that we're going to have more buzz about it once we get back down into session."
Depending on what action is taken, Brown says farmers may be looking to start planting hemp crops as early as 2020.