Minnesota's farmers look to hemp

Minnesota's farmers look to hemp

Farming has always had an integral role to play in the lifestyle and economy of Minnesota.

While most large farms in the state currently focus on well-known staple crops like corn and soy beans, MPR News recently reported that with the new farm bill decriminalizing hemp, hundreds of farmers are interested in adding the plant to their repertoire. [1]

According to MPR reporter Dan Gunderson, there were 51 hemp growers in the state by the end of 2018. This compares to only six growers who put in for the first Minnesota pilot program for hemp-growing in 2016.

The new push of farmers to take advantage of hemp shows promise, but hurdles remain. Decades of prohibition don’t come without some side effects.

Perhaps most evident is the lack of buyers currently looking to purchase hemp grain from prospective farmers. This is expected to change in coming months, as more people take advantage of the new legislation.

Another is the short Minnesota growing season, at least relative to other states in the U.S., which deters farmers to some extent. Still, this is the case for other crops as well, and Minnesotan farmers have proven time and again they can take on any obstacle.

As reported in the Minnesota Post Bulletin, another element of the 2018 farm bill is that Minnesota farmers can now get federal loans for hemp harvest just like with other crops. [2]

Despite this, growers still be required to submit plans for their farms to the USDA and state of Minnesota. Federal and state regulators would then evaluate farms to ensure the hemp plants have 3% or less of THC – the psychoactive element of cannabis.

Farmers also must show that they have buyers for their product before planting any seed at all, which is sure to hold up the budding industry to a certain extent.

There are other, environmental reasons farmers are interested in hemp. Compared to other textiles, hemp can require far less water. [3]

More than anything, the more choices farmers have, the more likely it is that the state of Minnesota will have a healthy population of successful large-scale or family-operated farms.

Hemp stalks are treated like any textile, and are used to make fabrics, ropes and other raw materials.

The flowers and seeds are what secondary manufacturers can use to extract organic CBD oils from the plant, which have incredible benefits for consumers, as many have come to know across the emerging CBD market.

MPR News reported that the University of Minnesota has studied multiple different varieties of hemp crops and found that the species most suited for Minnesota will likely be those that produce the textile-stalks in greater abundance or health than the flowers and seeds that are great for CBD creation. [1]


[1] https://www.mprnews.org/story/2019/01/17/minn-farmers-high-on-hemp-potential

[2] https://www.postbulletin.com/agrinews/news/minnesota/minnesota-hemp-gets-green-light/article_6a17892a-054e-11e9-9669-9b61375952ed.html

[3] https://www.nothingbuthemp.net/blog/the-environmental-case-for-hemp