America’s hemp industry is growing, no pun intended. In 2016 it is estimated that retail sales of hemp products in America exceeded $688 million. This despite hemp being prohibited for so many years at the federal level. Technically hemp is still prohibited according to federal law, but a provision in a farming bill from a few years ago allowed exceptions in states that have created hemp pilot programs and/or cultivate hemp for research purposes. To date 31 states have reformed their hemp laws.
One of those states is Minnesota according to Vote Hemp. In 2015 Minnesota passed a hemp reform bill which created a pilot program in the state. In 2016 there were six participants that signed up for the program, and 40 acres of hemp was harvested. Hemp could do wonders for Minnesota farmers, which is a stance that was recently echoed by members of a Future Farmers for America (FFA) chapter in Minnesota at the recent Minnesota FFA convention. Per Minnesota Farm Guide:
Maddie’s chapter also won the State Agricultural Issues competition. This was their first year participating in that event and they will move on to compete at the national level. They chose to advocate for industrial hemp production.
“We found out that hemp production was something that was being looked at in Minnesota and we found out that there are a lot of miscommunications on the differences and the similarities between hemp and marijuana. My team and I just found a passion to inform the public about those differences so we could maybe see hemp industrialized in Minnesota and in America in the future,” she said.
As far as I can tell, the chapter hasn’t experienced any backlash for their promotion of hemp production, which is a good thing. These kids sound educated on the subject, and hopefully their message resonates at the national competition. I was not a member of FFA growing up (my area did not have chapters), but I have a lot of friends where were involved with FFA. I tip my hat to these kids, and hope they inspire others to push for more hemp production in America. I don’t believe in the claim that ‘hemp can save the world’ because I think it’s a bit too general, but I DO believe that hemp can do a lot to help save the world, and therefore it should be grown all over America.