Farm bill language allows hemp cultivation, what this means for future growers

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GILTNER, Neb. — Last week, lawmakers reached an agreement on the 867 billion dollar farm bill, pushing it through both chambers with the expectation that it will be signed into law by the end of the year.

A few items on that bill might be paving the way for our farmers and producers.

One of those items includes the usage of hemp. The new farm bill allows the cultivation of industrial hemp which is a product that brings controversy but could also bring opportunity to those in Nebraska.

**Nebraska, Kansas, north Texas, South Dakota, North Dakota are going to be the game changers in this industry**

However, this addition to the farm bill is just the beginning.

"If you look at current legislation that we have on the books, we're going to have to go and repeal what we have there currently to be able to give us the opportunity to benefit from this so as the farm bill passes, I’m very excited but it doesn't do really anything for the state,” said Andrew Bish.

Even with the new addition to the farm bill, current legislation says it can only be used for university research purposes.

Andrew Bish of Giltner produces some hemp harvesting products and said once all laws allow the cultivation of hemp, he will start growing it.

"Currently there is a lot of profitability for a lot of growers in the states that are growing hemp so that there are dollar signs out there that people are trying to chase and if they are conservative about it and go about it the right way, there will be dollars for Nebraskan’s as well,” said Bish.

Bish mentioned the uses and varieties of hemp, acknowledging its use as a grain for oil, as a high protein substitute and as hemp–crete for building purposes.

"The plastics is really where I see the biggest benefit of hemp is going to be the biodegradable plastics that are going to be able to replace our current line of plastics,” Bish said.

Bish said he believes in the next few years, the industry will shift and use less varieties of hemp but expand on what it can be used for.

"I do see most of our CBD is going to start going in to the grain fiber crop versus these bushy marijuana style plants,” said Bish.

Bish said a new bill will have to be introduced to lawmakers if folks want to start growing. This bill would need to repeal the current legislation and include a licensing program for future growers.

Andrew Bish will be working with other hemp supporters on preparing that new bill to have it ready before January.