Minn. takes slow route on hemp, frustrating some farmers

Published 3:11 pm Saturday, August 8, 2015

ST. PAUL — Farmers anxious to grow hemp as part of a newly authorized Minnesota pilot project are expressing frustration after being told by state regulators that chance won’t come soon.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture informed interested farmers in a recent email that there “are no opportunities to be involved with the pilot program at this time.” They cite a lack of money from the Legislature and scarcity of independently funded researchers stepping forward.

The posture has surprised lawmakers who championed the “Industrial Hemp Development Act” and discouraged producers who hoped to start planting seeds next spring.

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The agency is considering approaching the Legislature to fund a competitive grant program.

Minnesota’s program opened the door only to limited research and not commercial-scale hemp cultivation for product uses.