Kansas industrial hemp plans moving forward with public meetings

Brian Grimmett – Kansas News Service

Industrial hemp is coming to Kansas, but first the Department of Agriculture has to figure out how to regulate it.

Industrial hemp farm at the University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environment at Spindletop Research Farm in Lexington, KY

To get started, the department is holding public meetings to get input from potential growers.

“Please don’t be frustrated if our answer is, ‘We don’t know yet,’ because that’s part of why we’ve asked you to come so we can figure out what we need to figure out,” Chad Bontrager, Kansas Agribusiness Service director, said before beginning his presentation at a recent meeting in Manhattan.

The meeting consisted of an overview of the recently passed law opening up the pilot project, as well as presentations from two people involved in the operation of industrial hemp programs in Kentucky and Colorado.

Dozens of people participated in the meeting, including Christina Hett. She’s a farmer in Marion County who’s interested in hemp as an alternative to the wheat, soy beans and corn she already grows.

“The farming markets are terrible, and it’s just to the point that we have to find something else,” she said.

But even after the meeting, she still had lots of questions and concerns, especially about how much a license to grow would cost.

“It’s almost like they’re not thinking about this from the producer’s perspective,” she said.

The state Department of Agriculture’s goal is to have draft regulations completed by July 1 and to begin issuing licenses to grow by the beginning of 2019.

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Now in his third year as News Director at KD-Country 94 and Z-96.3 The Lake, Chad is a jack of not all, but many trades. He spent previous years of his working life in hotel management, event planning, security, the aviation industry, staff writing for a newspaper, and as a small business owner. He began doing play-by-play of high school sports for KDNS and KZDY in 2009 and came to work full time for the stations in July of 2015. He is a single-father of an eight year old daughter and enjoys spending his free time with her. His favorite activities include attending live music and sporting events as well as being a singer/songwriter. A natural conversationalist, he also enjoys a good discussion/debate on a myriad of topics from current events and politics to sports and philosophy. He resides in Glen Elder with his daughter and continues to write sports and meeting stories for the local newspaper.