Fairbury man advocating for hemp processing plant, issued could be discussed at state legislature

FAIRBURY, NE – The Nebraska Legislative session begins Wednesday, and one issue that could be discussed in the near future is the legalization of industrial hemp in the state.

In 2017, LB 617 was introduced by state senator Justin Wayne of Omaha. This bill would create the Industrial Hemp Commission within the Nebraska Dept. of Ag. This commission would oversee a multi-year project that would study industrial hemp demonstration plots.

Former Jefferson County Economic Development Director James Fraeger, who spoke on this matter earlier this month to the Jefferson County Commissioners, says with the recent passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, Nebraska could soon legalize industrial hemp.

“The farm bill that just got signed by (President) Trump, it means that every state can grow (industrial) hemp if it wants to,” Fraeger said. “If their legislature approves.”

Traeger says he’s spoken to farmers in the Fairbury area about industrial hemp and the idea of building a hemp processing plant.

“That’s right in the farmers’ line of work,” Traeger said. “One hemp processing plant could create at least 20 jobs.”

Right now in Nebraska, it’s only legal for for post-secondary education institutions or the state’s Department of Ag to grow hemp for research. 34 other states have already passed legislation which allows hemp to be grown for industrial purposes.

The Farm Bill, which was signed into law in the third week of December 2018, took hemp out of the Controlled Substances Act.

Sen. Wayne told Nebraska Radio Network in November that he plans to introduce two bills – the first removing CBD oil from the state statutes that ban it. The second bill (617) would allow farmers to grow industrial hemp.

“What we have done in the last 30-40 years is researched the benefits of some of the cannaboids in this plant that do not get you high, but are beneficial to pain,” Wayne said.

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