South Dakota Farm Bureau discusses hemp farming in the state

Photo Source: Aleks / CC BY-SA 3.0 / Adrian Cable / CC BY-SA 2.0 / Barbetorte / CC BY-SA 3.0 /...
Photo Source: Aleks / CC BY-SA 3.0 / Adrian Cable / CC BY-SA 2.0 / Barbetorte / CC BY-SA 3.0 / MGN(KALB)
Published: Nov. 22, 2019 at 6:27 PM CST
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The South Dakota Farm Bureau is holding their 102nd annual convention Friday and Saturday in Sioux Falls.

Members from the bureau are meeting to decide policy priorities, hear important updates on issues facing agriculture, and learn from leaders in the industry.

Some of the issues delegates will be covering include: Ag regulation, property taxes, livestock zoning, and of course industrial hemp.

Those delegates also get their chance to speak with state lawmakers, such as Senators Mike Rounds and John Thune who made appearances at the event Friday. Congressman Dusty Johnson will be in attendance Saturday.

One of this year's big questions, what is the future of hemp farming in South Dakota?

President of the South Dakota Farm Bureau Scott Vander Wal says there is both pros and cons to the potential cash crop.

"You've gotta have all your bases covered and manage your risk, because in agriculture these days risk is really high," Vander Wal said. "Admittedly, there are pretty good profit margins if everything goes right, but it's a huge risk at the same time."

Vander Wal agrees with Gov. Kristi Noem that legalizing hemp may be a slippery slope to unwanted consequences.

"You really can't tell the difference between a regular marijuana plant and industrial hemp in the fields, so there's a lot of issues there that law enforcement and regulatory authorities have to sort out," Vander Wal said.

But Vander Wal is open to discussion and interested to see where his constituents stand.

"They'll probably be on both sides of it... we just encourage our members to really watch out and do their homework," Vander Wal said.