Nick Fetty | November 7, 2014
Farmers, hemp advocates, industry leaders, and other groups have scheduled the 6th Annual Hemp History Week to take place June 1-7, 2015. The theme of 2015’s event is Sow the Seed which aims to increase the acreage of hemp crops on U.S. farms.
Hemp is an “environmentally sustainable crop [which] helps restore nutrients to soil via phytoremediation, and does not require chemical inputs of pesticides and herbicides to flourish.” Hemp can be used to produce a wide range of products from healthy foods (hemp is high in Omega-3 and Omega-6 as well as vitamin E and iron) to auto parts. According to the North American Industrial Hemp Council, Inc., more than 25,000 products can be made from hemp.
The hemp plant is able to grow “in a variety of climates and soil types, is naturally resistant to most pests, and grows very tightly spaced allowing it to outcompete most weeds.” Research also suggests that in regions of the Upper Midwest and the South, hemp fiber can be a cheaper and more sustainable alternative to wood for producing paper.
During the 2014 legislative year, Iowa was one of 29 states (along with Puerto Rico) that either introduced or passed legislation to legalize industrial hemp. Nineteen states “currently have laws to provide for hemp pilot studies and/or for production as described by the Farm Bill stipulations.” The federal bill – signed by President Obama earlier this year – allows some farmers to legally grow industrial hemp however the plant is unlikely to take root in Iowa anytime soon.