Hemp just one of many ag topics in 2018 session

    So what did the General Assembly do for, or to, agriculture this session? As it turns out, more than you think.
    Hemp and what to do about this latest crop was a big part of the bills lawmakers looked at in the 2018 session. That included adding unprocessed hemp seeds to the state list of commodities that already includes wheat, corn, oats, barley, rye, sunflower seeds, soybeans, beans and grain sorghum.
    It is also now classified as a farm product, both which took place under Senate Bill 205, sponsored by Sen. Don Coram of Montrose, one of the legislature’s go-to folks for carrying measures on hemp. The bill is awaiting a signature from the governor.
    Coram sponsored a similarly successful bill last year to classify industrial  hemp as an agricultural product so that those who raise it can use existing agricultural water rights for irrigation,
    Another Coram bill also waiting for a decision by Gov. John Hickenlooper is Senate Bill 235, which sets up a study on whether to create an industrial hemp research and development authority. That eight-member taskforce is expected to come up with recommendations by Dec. 1 on whether to set up that authority, which would be part of the state’s economic development process and would look for research, education and development programs related to the hemp industry.
    The General Assembly didn’t forget about the plight of the aging agricultural workforce. Senate Bill 42 would up the agricultural workforce development program, to be housed within the Department of Agriculture. That program is designed to help young and beginning farmers and ranchers through internships, partially paid for by the state, that help those starting out in the business learn the ropes. The internship is limited to 130 hours for a maximum of six months.


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