Hemp in Kansas: Reintroducing a Legacy Crop
By Kelly Rippel
Over the past year Kansas has seen a dramatic shift in policies allowing farmers to become active in the reintroduction of industrial hemp. This opportunity comes at a crucial time when farmers are needing to diversify commodities due to rising input costs and market volatility. As other countries and states have demonstrated in past years, policy changes to allow hemp cultivation have many benefits for local economies as well as environmental and ecological improvements. As researchers are finding out, regenerative agriculture principles and best practices such as no-till and cover crops are also amplified with hemp. Through scientific analyses the plant is even known to remediate soil, eliminating contamination and can increase successive yields of corn and soybean after using it as a rotation crop.
While Kansas is one of the last states to move away from laws prohibiting the cultivation of hemp and manufacturing cannabis-derived products, the Sunflower State has many unique characteristics that will once again prove it to be fertile ground for numerous industries hemp impacts. Our state has a rich history in agriculture which includes hemp. According to a USDA ag report, Kansas ranked first in the nation for bushels per acre of hemp in 1863. Joining at least 41 states that have enacted hemp legislation after the 2014 federal Farm Bill, Governor Colyer signed the industrial hemp research act in 2018 after being voted out of the Kansas legislature. Then in 2019 Governor Kelly enacted unanimously-passed commercial hemp legislation, expanding on the previous program under the department of agriculture.
As appointed volunteers who helped develop rules and regulations, the industrial hemp research advisory board is now approving licenses until the extended June 1 deadline. The 2020 application period will be opened up during November when the advisory board will begin reviewing applications for the next growing season. With the newly-enacted commercial hemp law, changes taking effect on July 1, 2019 will include lowered modification fees and elimination of certification restrictions for seed. To find out more about what new laws mean for farmers and more about the process of getting involved in this exciting, expanding industry visit the Kansas Department of Agriculture website:
As of May 10th, the state has approved 202 licenses including 150 growers, 15 distributors, 30 processors, and seven universities. Over 3,605 acres will be planted in the first year representing 61 counties. In comparison, Kentucky was in its third year of cultivating hemp before it reached similar acreage numbers. The amount of data and evidence-based information farmers will have following the first year is expected to guide best practices for future years. Approved proposals include research areas such as monitoring amounts and costs of inputs including water, fertilizer, etc; evaluation of planting and harvesting methods; identifying ideal soil and cultivation environments in greenhouses versus outdoor growing; drying and distribution practices; processing equipment and calibration, among others.
To learn about how you can get involved locally and hemp research conducted in Kansas during the 1970s please contact Kelly Rippel, vice president and co-founder of Kansans for Hemp: firstname.lastname@example.org.