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Hemp Processing Might Boost Rural Kansas Communities

Gov. Jeff Colyer speaking at the opening of America's Hemp Academy in De Soto.
Stephen Koranda
Gov. Jeff Colyer speaking at the opening of America's Hemp Academy in De Soto.

Joe Bisogno sees a bright future for industrial hemp in Kansas. The plant is a close relative of marijuana, but it lacks the high-producing chemical THC.

The crop can be used to make everything from textiles to health and food products.

“Industrial hemp is not pot, but it is a pot of gold for Kansas,” Bisogno said before the ribbon cutting on a new hemp training facility in De Soto.

Bisogno founded America’s Hemp Academy to train people on growing hemp, but other state officials hope Kansas can cash in on more than just growing the crop.

Gov. Jeff Colyer said Kansas could be poised to take a lead in the hemp industry. With the state’s climate, Colyer said farmers could produce more than one crop per year.

But he hopes the state can wring more from the plant than that. Kansas has a sizeable food production industry, and Colyer said hemp processing facilities could create economic growth and jobs in rural areas of the state.

“Having that added value, that’s how you get money into rural Kansas,” Colyer said.

There are already plans in the works for potential facilities in western Kansas, Colyer said.

Kansas law now allows limited hemp production after the state Legislature took action on the issue earlier this year. The federal Farm Bill also paves the way to grow hemp.

Stephen Koranda is Statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio, a partner in the Kansas News Service. Follow him on Twitter @kprkoranda. Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to the original post. To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.

Copyright 2018 KMUW | NPR for Wichita

Stephen Koranda is the Statehouse Bureau Chief for Kansas Public Radio.
Stephen Koranda
Stephen Koranda is Statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio and the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, KMUW, Kansas Public Radio and High Plains Radio covering health, education and politics.