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The 2018 US Farm Bill removed Industrial hemp from the controlled substance list and paved the way for growing and cultivation throughout the United States. In May, 2019 the Nebraska Legislature cleared the way for Nebraska farmers when it adopted the Nebraska Hemp Farming Act. To legally grow hemp in Nebraska, interested parties must apply for, and receive a signed license agreement from the State.
The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) took applications for limited agreements in this initial “pilot program” year. There were 176 applications received by the NDA by the June 28, 2019 deadline. Ten (10) applicants were notified of their eligibility and sent Agreements to participate in the NDA hemp growing program.
Ho-Chunk Farms, owned by the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska’s Economic Development Corporation received its approval on Thursday July 18. Aaron LaPointe, the company’s business manager, says the first season will start small, with 5.5 acres of hemp. Planting is expected to start in the coming weeks. LaPointe says the initial crop for a pilot program will help the company prepare for next year.
Although there has been some recent criticism of the limited number of applications granted for the pilot program, it is important that we recognize the wisdom in not moving forward too quickly. Before we start criticizing the Governor and Nebraska Department of Agriculture, we should look at why limited scope is warranted in the first growing year and what is in the best interest of Nebraska taxpayers and producers. For instance, more growers means more personnel paid for by taxpayers to oversee testing of appropriate THC levels. Also, this type of production can be an expensive initial investment for a producer. Generally hemp, which is a short day plant, should be planted after danger of hard freezes, and slightly before the planting date of corn in soil temperatures above 46’-50’. Good soil moisture is necessary for seed germination, and plenty of rainfall is needed for good growth, especially during the first six weeks. It is no secret that throughout Nebraska, corn, soybeans and other agricultural products are already in the ground.
I love fair season! I had a great time meeting and visiting with folks at the Wayne County Fair this past weekend. It is always so wonderful to see county residents coming together for fair events and competitions. I am especially proud of the 4-H groups, who all show great dedication and commitment to their communities and their projects. I look forward to the upcoming Thurston/Dakota County fair July 31-August 1.
The University of Nebraska Haskell Lab Science and Agricultural Family Field Day was held in Concord on July 24. I was unable to attend but am so grateful that the University did what it could to keep the Lab open in order to provide this amazing resource for residents of Northeast Nebraska. Attendees were introduced to the diverse research projects conducted at the Lab and were able to interact with exhibits like MakerSpace, robotics, and other STEM activities. If you were able to go, I would love to hear from you about your experience.
POW WOWs are coming up. The 153rd Annual Winnebago POW WOW and Celebration took place July 25-28, 2019 at Veteran’s Memorial Park in Winnebago, Nebraska. The 215th Annual UNOnHOn HE’THUSKA HEDEWACHI is being held August 15-18 at Little Warrior Park in Macy, Nebraska. These celebrations are rich in tradition, expression, community and culture.
As always, it is of great importance that I hear from my constituents to effectively do my job as your voice in the Legislature. I encourage you to contact me and I look forward to hearing from you.
You can reach me by phone at 402-471-2716 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org