Hemp in Iowa: What the Economic Alliance is Working On

Sep 11, 2019

Hemp in Iowa. It’s a topic on many farmers’ and businesses’ minds. In the 2019 Iowa legislative session, Senate File 599 established the Hemp Act to regulate, produce and market hemp in Iowa. It was signed into law by Governor Kim Reynolds on May 13, 2019 and the law became effective on July 1, 2019. This, preceded by the 2018 federal Farm Bill, opens the door for hemp crops and byproducts to be produced in Iowa, but not yet. The Iowa Department of Agriculture shares that farmers cannot legally grow hemp in Iowa until the United States Department of Agriculture approves the state’s proposed regulatory plan. Hemp production will likely not be legalized until the 2020 growing season at the earliest, depending on the timing of the review and approval process.

Hemp production could usher in a whole new industry in Iowa, with impacts reaching far beyond the producers and manufacturers of the crop. As the Economic Alliance’s mission is to drive economic, workforce and population growth strategies to help businesses succeed, know that our team is doing our due diligence to explore the potential impacts of the hemp industry and if it would be pursued in local business attraction or expansion work.

For the last few months, we’ve convened with local and regional economic development partners to discuss the topic and create a research plan. This plan includes:

1. Becoming conversant with base level knowledge on both CBD oil and hemp. We are considering cannabidiol (CBD) oil and industrial hemp as related but potentially distinct strategies.

2. Benchmarking what other communities are doing.

3. Seeking local industry experts. We are connecting with companies that could possibly manufacture the product but also with insurance, banking and law experts, farmers and raw suppliers. We’re compiling a list of businesses interested in entering the industry through production, building, transportation and supplying.

4. Pending #3, determine if and at what level we advocate for opportunities in ICR and create a guide for businesses interested in entering the industry.

5. Determine next steps with business attraction and business expansion strategies.

We’ll keep you, our member businesses, updated on what we discover along the way. If you’d like to learn more or are interested in possibly entering the industry, please contact Economic Alliance Services Manager Jamie Toledo at jtoledo@cedarrapids.org.

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