Allowing farmers to grow industrial hemp could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on who you ask.

Proponents say it is a promising new revenue stream for struggling South Dakota farmers, who already took a hard hit with soybean prices.  Those who oppose hemp production say the benefits of the product and the potential income are overblown.

On Friday (February 8) Governor Kristi Noem asked the South Dakota legislature to table discussions on legalizing industrial hemp this legislative session.

“South Dakota is not ready for industrial hemp production,” said Noem. “There are still questions about the impact on public safety, enforcement, and costs to the taxpayers. We need to see federal guidelines when they are issued and then decide if this commodity is as promising as they say it will be.”

The South Dakota House Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on Thursday (February 7) on HB1191, which would legalize the growth, production, and processing of industrial hemp in the state.

Bill sponsor, Representative Oren Lesmeister says it is another tool in the toolbox of crop rotation, but would not be promising to the point of saving the family farm.

J.B. Meyer of A.H. Meyer & Sons of Winfred told the committee that it would be a good addition to their beekeeping business, while Jenna Howell with the Department of Public Safety opposed the bill, saying there are still many details at the federal level that are unclear. The bill passed out of committee unanimously with a do pass recommendation and will next be heard on the House floor.

Governor Kristi Noem signed the following pieces of legislation Friday afternoon:

  • HB1013 – An act to require criminal background investigations for certain vital records employees
  • HB1025 – An act to revise certain provisions regarding voter registration
  • HB1026 – An act to revise certain provisions regarding petitions, notices, and statements of convention nominees and certifications of party officials
  • HB1036 – An act to revise provisions related to the Board of Technical Professions
  • HB1037 – An act to authorize the Board of Regents to contract for the construction of a regional sports complex at Northern State University and to make an appropriation therefor
  • SB12 – An act to revise certain provisions pertaining to the disqualification of commercial driver license holders for failure to consent to chemical analyses
  • SB23 – An act to revise certain references to repealed or obsolete provisions regarding the Department of Education
  • SB30 – An act to remove certain unnecessary federal references and dates from certain provisions relating to the Department of Social Services
  • SB31 – An act to revise certain provisions regarding criminal background checks for assistant behavior analysts and paraprofessionals

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