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Letter to the Editor: Support changes in Iowa's industrial hemp law

Posted: Mon, Feb 4, 2019 2:34 PM
(Photo courtesy of Wikimedia)

(The following Letter to the Editor has been submitted by Thomas Hansen of Decorah):

The Legislative Forum on January 26th, with Representatives Bergan and Osmundson and Senator Breitbach, provided some evidence that there may be some actual progress in moving in the right direction politically, at least here in Iowa. First, even though there was a constant call for Representative Bergan to give his consent for our elected officials to break the law and open the 29 invalid ballots in the House District 55 race, the overall tone of the meeting was far more civil than the first "battle royal" forum after the 2016 election.

Then there was the call by County Supervisor John Beard for the Iowa Legislature to adopt a rule change in regards to absentee ballots put forward by a bi-partisan committee of county auditors. The change would simply state that all absentee ballots must be in the Auditor's Office by the close of the polls on election day in order to be valid, period. This is something we all can support and it is interesting to note that Mr. Beard also commented that he hoped this would be some incentive for people to be a bit more responsible in getting their ballots turned in on time. The progress here is that his comments on personal responsibility did not receive the same boos and hisses it did when I brought up the topic at the canvassing of the vote by the County Board of Supervisors.

Then there is industrial hemp. The 2018 Farm Bill finally legalized the production of this once abundantly produced ag product here in America but Iowa is now going to have to play catch up as it is one of only 11 states that has not been readying itself for the opening of this lucrative market over the last decade even though it has been supported by all four districts in the Republican State Platform and, as I was happy to learn, also supported in the Democratic State Platform.

Part of this hesitation, according to both our representatives and the local Farm Bureau President I spoke with, was determining the economic viability of the product. Well, excuse me, but if a product is legal to produce and someone wants to put their capital at risk by investing in its production, it is not the job of the Legislature, or Farm Bureau for that matter, to determine its economic viability before establishing the rules for its production.

Another speed bump with industrial hemp is its continued confusion with marijuana which was evident when one of the stated products of industrial hemp was cannabis oil. All hemp is cannabis but not all cannabis is hemp. "Cannabis oil" is made from marijuana, 25,000+ other products (including hemp oil) are made from industrial hemp. There seems to be plenty of concern about getting more young people into farming and something else besides corn and soybeans may be the answer. So get it right, quit worrying about how the government may subsidize it and do what the people here in Iowa, on both sides of the aisle, want and get out of the way."