Iowa governor signs law enabling industrial hemp production


David Pitt, Associated Press

via SF Gate (CA) - May 13, 2019


DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) Iowa farmers will have the option of growing industrial hemp next year under a law signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds on Monday.


The Iowa Hemp Act passed the Legislature with overwhelming support last month with just one no vote in the Senate and three in the House.


The bill allows licensed growers to cultivate the crop on up to 40 acres (161874.4 sq. meters) but before that can begin the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship must develop a plan and submit it for approval of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA must still release its own regulations this fall and hopes to have things in place for farmers to begin hemp growing during the 2020 planting season.


"We're excited for growers in Iowa to have the same opportunities to compete as their peers in other states," Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig said in a statement. "We've collaborated with other state agencies as well as law enforcement officials to prepare for the deregulation of hemp in Iowa. We advise growers to do their research to be sure there is a viable, profitable market for commercial hemp before they make the investment."


Industrial hemp can be used in food, fiber, paper, beauty products and other products and the industry estimates it could grow nationally to be a $1.9 billion market by 2022.


"It's an exciting time to be riding this watershed moment in the agriculture community," said Dr. Christopher Disbro, a medical doctor who founded the Iowa Hemp Association, a nonprofit organization working to reintroduce hemp as an agricultural crop.


He said those who may benefit most from a rapidly expanding hemp market are rural communities and family farmers who incorporate it into their soybean and corn rotations as a third crop.


He said it's difficult to estimate how many farmers will decide to grow hemp.


"If it's any indicator my phone has not stopped ringing since it cleared the House this year," he said...