A bill that would enable farmers to eventually obtain a license to plant industrial hemp has moved to the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

The move is one hemp supporters wanted to help get the bill passed this session. The bill was referred to the committee on Thursday.

Meanwhile, hemp supporters are planning a forum from 6 to 8 p.m. June 5 at the public library in Coffeyville, said Kelly Rippel, who is with Kansans for Hemp.

During the forum, community members, lawmakers and farmers will have the opportunity to discuss and learn about the benefits of reintroducing industrial hemp to Kansas.

Supporters, including Rep. Willie Dove, R-Bonner Springs, who introduced the bill, see it as an alternative for Kansas farmers – including in western Kansas where the aquifer is declining. Dove and others have said it uses less water than corn.

The clock is ticking this year for industrial hemp as lawmakers work to end the session – giving a bill centered on hemp research a small window to get passed with all the other big issues the Legislature must decide such as taxes, the budget and school finance.

Dove, however, already has made headway with hemp this session. Legislation enabling farmers to eventually obtain a license to plant industrial hemp passed the Kansas House in March 103-18 with four members not voting.

Kansas Agland Editor Amy Bickel's agriculture roots started in Gypsum. She has been covering Kansas agriculture for more than 15 years. Email her with news, photos and other information at abickel@hutchnews.com or by calling (800) 766-3311 Ext. 320.

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