“SACRAMENTO, Calif., June 12 /U.S. Newswire/ — North Dakota and California are in a race to be the first state in the U.S. to grow industrial hemp since Wisconsin grew the last hemp crop nearly 50 years ago. This week, each state will conduct important public hearings on the subject. The California Senate Public Safety Committee holds a hearing Tuesday, June 13, 2006, on AB 1147, a bill that would affirmatively grant farmers the right to grow industrial hemp to produce seed and fiber, while North Dakota’s Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson holds a public hearing on Thursday, June 15, 2006, about rules expected to be finalized later this year that would license farmers to grow hemp under existing state law.
The hearings are taking place in the shadow of Canadian hemp farming which has seen steady growth in the last 6 years. This year, Canada is growing a record 40,000 acres of industrial hemp. Nevertheless, rumors persist that the demand for hemp seed from U.S. food producers — whose sales are growing 50 percent each year — will create seed shortages before harvest again this summer, forcing buyers to go to Europe or China for seed. “American farmers are tired of looking around the world to see farmers making healthy profits growing hemp for export to the U.S. They want change,” says Vote Hemp President Eric Steenstra.”