Industrial Hemp Measure Gains Approval In Senate Education Committee

(KBRK) — The Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee passes a measure to legalize the growth of industrial hemp in South Dakota. South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem has asked lawmakers to hold off on the effort, saying the state isn’t ready. The House voted 65-2 in favor of the bill just days after Noem first requested a delay. Bill sponsor, Oren Lesmeister of Parade, says industrial hemp could have a significant impact as a value-added crop in South Dakota…

“Industrial Hemp now has over 25,000 USDA value-added ag products listed. Industrial hemp, to some, is predicted to be the next big Ag product. There is 820 million dollars in the US in hemp-based product sales, by category in 2017.”

Several members of the Noem administration testified against the bill including Senior Policy Analyst Aaron Scheibe …

“We remain very concerned about the rush to pass legislation this session, when as you’ve heard USDA and FDA, the federal authorities with regulatory authority over these issues, are themselves unclear on the path forward. We’ve shared publicly that the bill in its present form as you have it before you today, raises more questions than it does answers and for that reason, we oppose it.”

Senator Deb Soholt of Sioux Falls says she still has concerns with the bill but it believes it’s worse to wait. She says the bill wouldn’t even become law until July…

“I mean, we are really talking about people just getting their plans together and their licensing together, so we have time to sort….we even have time to bring to back to next session response and fix to all of these concerns, but I think what this bill does is it gets us going. It absolutely gets us moving in a direction we are going to have to go no matter what.”

The measure passed out of committee on a 7-2 vote and now heads to the Senate floor.