The Iowa Hemp Act, which allows licensed producers in Iowa to grow up to 40 acres of industrial hemp as a cash crop, passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in the Iowa Legislature before being signed into law by Governor Kim Reynolds in early May. While official regulations are still being written for this new opportunity, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) is bringing a representative from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) and an industrial hemp grower from Canada to the 2019 IFBF Economic Summit, June 28, to answer farmers’ questions.
“This market is really in its pre-dawn stages,” says Dr. Sam Funk, IFBF senior economist. “We don’t know what the market potential will be, but we want to provide information to help farmers make good informed decisions as they plan for the future.”
Iowa joins 41 other states to legally grow industrial hemp, harvested for several uses including fiber, food, or oil. An important distinction needs to be emphasized between industrial hemp and medicinal or recreational marijuana. Iowa law prohibits hemp with more than 0.3 percent of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive ingredient in the drug marijuana, from being grown. In fact, Iowa hemp growers will be subject to annual inspections to ensure this law is followed.
Robin Pruisner, IDALS state entomologist and plant science chief ag security coordinator, will be covering the guidelines in the summit breakout session, “Industrial Hemp: Regulations and Production.” Pruisner will explain the next steps and potential timeframe for legalizing hemp production in Iowa and what farmers will need to know to apply for a hemp permit. Adam Ornawka, a farmer from Saskatchewan, will share his challenges and successes adding hemp to his small grain crop rotation.
“Without hemp trials done in Iowa, it’s hard to know what impact production of this plant and in-field practices will have on water quality and soil health. It has challenges in agronomic management and market development that will be crucial—these questions and more are what we hope to cover in this year’s Economic Summit,” says Funk. “As details on the provisions of growing industrial hemp in Iowa continue to unfold, it will be interesting to see what types of opportunities become available in this untapped Iowa market.”
The 2018 Farm Bill paved the way for states to adopt growing hemp. USDA Administrator Richard Fordyce is confirmed to attend and will speak on Farm Bill implementation.
The IFBF Economic Summit will be held at the Des Moines Marriott Downtown. Registration is $30 for Farm Bureau members and $150 for non-members before June 19. Tickets will be available at the door--$60 for members and $150 for non-members. For more information on additional keynote speakers and breakout sessions, visit www.iowafarmbureau.com/EconomicSummit or listen to the latest Spokesman Speaks podcast for additional insights.