Hemp holdout Nebraska legalizes production, processing, sales

Nebraska is one of the last remaining Western states to approve hemp production after Gov. Pete Ricketts signed a bill that will recognize the plant as a viable agricultural crop.

The Nebraska law cites a need to “open up new commercial markets for farmers and businesses” through the sale of hemp products and sets up licenses and fee requirements for farming, processing and handling hemp.

At least 42 states allow hemp cultivation, though not all those states have functioning programs.

Nebraska’s new law outlines the state Department of Agriculture’s reporting and enforcement requirements and prohibits anyone with a felony drug conviction from participating in hemp production, processing or handling.

It also calls for the state’s agriculture regulators to prepare and submit a hemp regulation plan to the U.S. Department of Agriculture within 30 days.

Further, the Nebraska Hemp Farming Act will create a hemp checkoff program, creating a separate fund and revenue stream to support promotion of the hemp industry.

The state also will expand participation in Nebraska’s hemp research pilot program to allow for more growers to produce hemp in 2019.