ST. PAUL – Farmers eager 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” because of 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.
“It kind of stinks,” said Josh Helberg, a Stevens County farmer who hoped to use part of his 250 acres for a test hemp crop. “What does Minnesota want to do: Do we want to be left behind everybody or do some research of this incredible crop and get more money into farmers’ pockets?”