Legislators need to move forward on industrial hemp legislation

South Dakota Farmers Union
Farm Forum

South Dakota Farmers Union (SDFU) strongly encourages South Dakota’s legislative body to continue discussions on House Bill 1191, which legalizes raising industrial hemp across the state.

The 2018 Farm Bill legalized growing industrial hemp at the federal level, now it’s up to individual states to determine if they will legalize it or not.

“This is a timely issue that cannot be tabled because it keeps South Dakota’s farmers competitive with the rest of the nation,” explains Doug Sombke, SDFU president and fourth-generation Conde farmer. “Our neighbors, Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota, have already made it legal for their farmers to grow industrial hemp. We don’t want South Dakota’s farmers left behind.”

Sombke is responding to the Feb. 8 request Governor Noem made to legislators to table HB1191.

Representative and Minority Whip, Oren L. Lesmeister who represents district 28A, is the author of House Bill 1191. The Parade rancher introduced the bill because he sees industrial hemp as a hardy crop, ideally suited to growing conditions on both sides of the river.

“This is an opportunity for South Dakota farmers to plant a low-input crop that is vigorous, returns nitrogen to the soil and crowds out weeds,” Lesmeister explained of the bill which came out of the House Ag Committee unanimously in favor to pass the bill. “I’m confused by Governor Noem’s request for us to table this item, when all the members of the Ag Committee passed this.”

SDFU encourages South Dakotans to reach out to their representatives asking them to continue discussions on HB1191.

“This is good for agriculture. And, in South Dakota where agriculture is our number one economic driver, if it’s good for agriculture, it’s good for South Dakota,” Sombke said. “If our legislators grant Governor Noem’s request, they will leave South Dakota farmers with less opportunity than neighboring states who are already poised to take advantage of this new opportunity, created by 2018 federal Farm Bill.”