Bartels: Industrial hemp provides many agricultural, economic opportunities

Posted by: Victoria Klimczak  | Friday, December 21, 2018 12:29 pm

U.S. Congress recently passed a new farm bill. Farm bills are passed roughly every five years and include legislation impacting many aspects of agriculture, like best farming practices, access to healthy foods and funding for a variety programs. The most recent farm bill legalized the production of industrial hemp. I believe removing this product from the banned substances list will be beneficial to Indiana from an agricultural and economic development standpoint.

Industrial hemp is a strain of the Cannabis Sativa plant with low levels of THC, which means the plant cannot be used as a recreational drug. Hemp fibers can be used to create clothing textiles, building materials, paper, and industrial textiles like rope and canvas. The seeds can be used in products with both industrial and health applications, including paints and varnishes, inks, soaps and lotions, and food supplements.

In Indiana, the soil is well-suited for the production of industrial hemp, and legalizing it allows farmers to diversify their crops. This could be lucrative for the state’s farming industry. The production of hemp in Indiana would also facilitate local purchases of seeds and fibers, rather than obtaining the products from other distributors.

With the passage of the federal farm bill, in Indiana we will likely need to now focus on creating the proper infrastructure to support the production of industrial hemp. Legislation may need to be put in place to create the proper internal structures, like issuing licenses for the growth and distribution of the products, and guidelines for inspections and oversight.

Throughout the upcoming legislative session, especially in my new role as vice chair of the House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, I will thoughtfully consider policies relating to the production of industrial hemp in our state. As always, if you have any questions or comments, please contact me at h74@iga.in.gov or 317-232-9802.

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State Rep. Stephen Bartels (R-Eckerty) represents House District 74, which

includes portions of Spencer, Dubois, Perry, Crawford and Orange counties.

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