South Dakota Hemp Day: Working Hard to Catch Up
It’s ironic when you think about it. Spending time in the state capitol advocating for the legalization of a crop that the government once mandated farmers grow. There was a time when you and I could have paid our taxes with hemp or used it as legal tender. Now what are we doing? Well, we’re working hard just to see if we can get farmers access to seeds again.
Monday, October 7th was Hemp Day here in South Dakota, one of the three remaining hold out states that have yet to pass legislation around growing industrial hemp. The event coincided with the 3rd of three committee meetings for the state’s summer hemp study.
Doug Sombke, President of the South Dakota Farmer’s Union, mentioned at the event how hungry South Dakota farmers are for access to industrial hemp. “There hasn’t been something this new, this exciting, with this much opportunity in agriculture in a long time.” It’s true, 2019 could’ve been a banner year for hemp in South Dakota had our farmers been able to participate in the space. A wet spring and a lot of unplanted acres scar the South Dakota landscape as a bleak reminder of the challenges our farm families are facing this year. Hemp brings solutions to a number of different problems we’re facing in the traditional ag space today.
South Dakotans Quietly Making Progress
Present at Hemp Day were over half a dozen different South Dakota companies already active in the hemp industry. A testament to the creativity, ingenuity, and innovation of South Dakota business owners, everyone from seed producers to seed treatment manufacturers, from CBD extractors to nutraceutical companies to ag equipment manufacturers like HPS, there was no denying that South Dakota is already hard at work having a positive impact on the industrial hemp space.
Also speaking at the event was Lee Qualm, Republican Senator, and Chairman of the summer hemp study committee. At one time opposing the legislation, Qualm’s own family has experienced the benefits of CBD and its impact on treating illness. Senator Oren Lesmeister, a Democrat, and Co-Chair Senator Rocky Blare, a Republican, also shared their thoughts and desire to remove restrictions granting access to hemp for South Dakota farmers and business owners.
Most exciting of the day was the clear bipartisan support. A diverse group of Republicans and Democrats, members of both the Senate and House of Representatives, old and young, farmers and entrepreneurs alike all showed up in support of the legislation. There’s no doubt the entire state is aware of the opportunity that awaits us with Industrial Hemp.