Clark Kelman raises corn and soybeans just like his father and grandfather did on the High Plains of Kansas.
There isn’t anything wrong with that, the fifth-generation Haskell County farmer said. But with water levels declining on their southwest Kansas farm and the downturn in the farm economy, he envisions growing something different.
Kelman wants to be one of the first in the state to plant industrial hemp.
Kansas lawmakers passed legislation this session creating a hemp research program—now one of 39 states to remove barriers to its production. And, in mid-May, Kelman and other interested farmers, county officials and others, traveled to the Kansas Department of Agriculture in Manhattan to give regulators ideas on how to implement it.
“I’ve grown corn and beans and milo and wheat like my grandpa did, my great-grandpa and my dad did,” Kelman said. “For me, to get my foot in the door with a new product, that would be fun.”
But as Kelman and other producers would learn, growing hemp isn’t as easy as scattering hemp seed across farm fields and watching it grow. While it’s making money for some growers in states like Colorado and Kentucky, experts warned, like with any new crop, there is risk. [Read more at High Plains Journal]