Louisiana farmers allowed to grow industrial hemp

DELHI, La. - (KNOE) Roy McIntyre raises Brahman cattle along with wheat, oats and other row crops in Franklin Parish, south of Delhi. Although this year he has some acreage sitting idle because of the wet Spring. Between mother nature and the tariff war with China, having another commodity that’s not dependent on exports is something McIntyre is looking forward to. That’s where Industrial Hemp enters the picture.

Franklin Parish farmer Roy McIntyre looks out over his Brahman cattle herd. He's considering growing industrial hemp next season.

“We were just looking for another option for our young farmers to make a crop that has an opportunity to make a profit,” said McIntyre.

McIntyre and the Louisiana Farm Bureau spent time at the state capital working to get the industrial hemp bill passed. McIntyre says one of the biggest obstacles was the misinformation about hemp.

“Industrial hemp does not have anything that can make you high. You can smoke a boatload and it would be just like smoking soybeans. You can’t get anything out of it but smoke,” said McIntyre.

Hemp is used in making paper, textiles, plastics, fuel, and food among other things. So McIntyre believes this is something that doesn’t have a downside but only an upside. Senator Francis Thompson was originally against legalizing industrial hemp. He says he wanted to make sure the product would be well regulated and scrutinized so the public would be safe.

“When it came to us you could drive a freight train or at least two 18 wheelers through the legislation. It was just not tight enough and would have been bad for the public,” said Senator Francis Thompson.

The federal government still has to write its own rules on the regulation of hemp. Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry, Mike Strain, says he expects that to be done by year’s end. Meaning local farmers could plant industrial hemp next Spring.