JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A group of agriculturalists from around the Show-Me State have joined together in an effort to protect the interest of hemp producers while creating a thriving market place.
The Missouri Hemp Producers Association is a nonprofit organization that looks to advance hemp production in the state to the point that it is the nation’s leader in production, producers, and products.
“We’re focused on balancing free-market principles with reasonable protections to make hemp production a vital part of Missouri’s number one industry, agriculture,” said Tom Raffety, president of MHPA. “Historically, hemp is an adaptable crop used to create many practical products used in our daily lives and now is the time to ensure our state’s policies allow this market to thrive sustainably and economically.”
Hemp has been touted as an incredibly versatile plant used to create and manufacture diverse products which benefit people’s lives through textiles, health foods, and products, biodegradable plastics, and construction materials.
During the 2018 regulation session, the General Assembly put its stamp of approval on the industrial hemp pilot program that is under the purview of the Missouri Department of Agriculture. The measure, which has been signed into law, legalized an industrial hemp pilot program in the Show-Me State and exempts the crop — which has less than 0.03 percent THC — from the list of controlled substances and the definition of marijuana.
In January 2019, the department released draft rules for the fledgling agricultural commodity. According to a proposed timeline, farmers will be able to plant the crop in 2020.
Rep. Rick Francis has a bill, HB 824, currently moving through the Missouri legislature that would remove some restrictions on industrial hemp.
Raffety noted hemp producers around the state are working to educate lawmakers about the crop and its applications based on research.
“Hemp is an emerging opportunity, and I expect Missouri agriculture to be at the forefront of new and innovative technologies,” House Speaker Pro Tem John Wiemann said in a statement. “The Missouri Hemp Producers Association will be a strong, consistent educator in this new space.”
Members of the statewide nonprofit organization include:
- Tom Raffety, President of Charleston
- Peter Rost, Jr., Vice President of New Madrid
- Jeremy Nothdurft, Secretary/Treasurer of Cape Girardeau
- Neal Bredehoeft of Alma
- James Marshall of Cape Girardeau
To learn more about hemp and the association, visit MoHempProducers.com.
Alisha Shurr is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine. She joined the Missouri Times in January 2018 after working as a copy editor for her hometown newspaper in Southern Oregon. Alisha is a graduate of Kansas State University. Contact Alisha at firstname.lastname@example.org.