Hemp Legalization Could Grow In State Farming

Posted at 8:22 PM, Mar 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-27 21:22:49-04

Farmers and agriculture officials talked with NewsChannel 5 about the recent national push to legalize industrial hemp.

David Waddell, Administrative Manager with the Department of Agriculture said he believes it would grow the state hemp farming industry. 

"A lot of people have been reluctant to get into the business and to market and accept hemp products because of the federal illegality of it," said Waddell. "They're concerned they could get into trouble with the federal government if they became involved in the program."

Currently, there are 79 hemp producers in the state and about 125 acres of hemp fields. One of those producers is Bill Corbin who plans to farm about six acres of hemp this year in Springfield.

"There's several of us that do a lot of heavy lifting right now. I think in a very short time," said Corbin. "This is a pivotal year and I think a lot of people are going to benefit and I hope they do."

Corbin started growing hemp in 2014, when the hemp pilot program was written into the farm bill.

It's all an experiment. Farmers are still working out how to make the most money with the crop.

"To generate income, the higher CBD varieties are the quickest and best route right now to develop the industry," said Corbin. He said he thinks federal legality will bring too much competition in the state and that there's some growth that could happen to benefit automakers.

Waddell believes the market could sustain more farmers.

"It was a major crop many years ago back in the 30s. So, the potential is great if we get the market for it," he said.