The number of hemp growers in Minnesota continues to bloom, beginning with six pioneer farmers in 2016 and sprouting to 343 last year.
Since the federal 2014 Farm Bill paved the way for states to begin hemp production, hemp has been grown within state pilot programs. Minnesota was one of the first states to begin a hemp program, and the state had 65 applicants in 2018 and 723 in 2019, according to officials with the Department of Agriculture.
Anthony Cortilet, who supervises the hemp and noxious weed programs for the department, said hemp looks similar to marijuana, and people often report “big, bushy” tree farms that are hemp.
“It’s challenging but we’re working our way through it,” he told the House Agriculture and Food Finance and Policy Division Thursday.
Minnesota had hemp processing plants in the 1940s, but after prohibition they were retrofitted or torn down, Cortilet said.
“We certainly have the growers if they come,” Cortilet said of investors that could build fiber processing facilities.
The division chair, Rep. Jeanne Poppe (DFL-Austin), said some hemp bills will be coming this session.