A couple of items in our reading are helping provide a bit of Christmas cheer: news that industrial hemp and pollinators policy may be on the agenda in the next session.
Don Davis reports in his Legislative notebook item, Hemp could be up:
Rep. Phyllis Kahn long has pushed a bill to allow Minnesota farmers to grow hemp.
There are new efforts in many states to allow growth of the plant, which can be turned into products as diverse as ropes and paper. Even homes can be built from hemp.
. . . .Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, is one of many rural lawmakers who have supported Kahn's bills over the years. If the Minneapolis Democrat pushes it again in 2015, Hamilton will be there.
"Hemp used to be extremely viable" before it was outlawed over fears it could be used to hide marijuana, said Hamilton, who prefers using the word "cannabis" instead of marijuana.
In addition to Hamilton, Representative Mary Franson, who co-authored last session's bill with Kahn, will serve as vice chair of the Ag Policy Committee. Franson was criticized for her support of allowing farmers to grow hemp by her militantly anti-cannabis Republican challenger. Franson defeated her in the endorsing convention and went on to win in November with her strongest showing so far.
Both the Minnesota Farm Bureau and the Minnesota Farmers Union support adding hemp to producers' rotations.
Elsewhere, on the campaign website for incoming Ag Policy Committee Paul Anderson, we find this item in a press release:
Anderson also said he is interested in addressing a declining bee population where it relates to farming, discussing food labeling for genetically modified organisms and hearing ideas regarding unmanned aircraft used for scouting crops.
Earlier media accounts had reported that pollinator policy was unlikely to be on the legislature's agenda in the coming session. As some of the other agenda items may not prove to be so valuable, we look forward to learning the details of just what Anderson's statement means.
Photo: Industrial hemp is a profitable crop that can be made into many useful products including wicks.
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