Missouri farmers have not planted their first hemp crop, but one new state association wants to help them get off on the right foot in 2020.
Formed this year, Missouri Hemp Association LLC focuses on promoting technology, genetics and markets for hemp growers.
“When they approved federally the growing of hemp in the 2018 Farm Bill, we thought it was a great opportunity for Missouri,” says Dale Ludwig, Missouri Hemp Association executive director. “We want to be a leader in the industry for our state. We want to help growers understand how to grow and market hemp.”
The Missouri Hemp Association will host the first statewide conference on growing hemp July 30 at the Stoney Creek Hotel and Conference Center in Columbia, Mo. Ludwig says hemp production can be complicated.
“There are many avenues a producer can choose, like growing for CBD oil, fiber or seed,” he says. “The conference will help growers understand what may work best in their operation.”
The daylong program, which starts at 10:30 a.m., will cover from “seed to sale,” Ludwig says. The program will include university and allied industry experts on hemp production and marketing, plus a producer panel.
Missouri farmers have not been given the green light when it comes to planting hemp.
In 2018, the Missouri General Assembly authorized a pilot program for hemp in the state as outlined in the 2014 U.S. Farm Bill. Under the Industrial Hemp Agricultural Pilot Program, production was limited to 2,000 acres statewide and to 10 to 40 acres per farmer except for research.
The program held rules hearings in January. The final rules that were approved go into effect July 1. Many found the acreage restrictions deterred this potential new cash crop in the state.
So, this year, legislation — Senate Bill 133 — was introduced and passed. It removes acreage limitations, bringing Missouri in line with federal requirements. However, it awaits the governor’s signature.
While many are confident the measure will come to fruition, if not, the law will revert to the Industrial Hemp Pilot Program rules and growers will jockey for acres. Sign-ups are slated for this fall, according to the Missouri Department of Agriculture website.
“I think hemp production can make a difference in Missouri agriculture,” Ludwig says. “It is an exciting crop for the state.”
To learn more about the Missouri Hemp Association “Seed to Sale” conference, visit mohempassociation.org. Registration for the conference is free for Missouri Hemp Association members, and all others are $150 per ticket.
Attendees are encouraged to register early because of limited space.