Industrial hemp is from the plant species Cannabis sativa. It is a source of fiber and oilseed grown in more than 30 nations and has been used worldwide to produce a variety of industrial and consumer products1The 2018 Farm Bill (pdf) directed the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to establish a national regulatory framework for hemp production in the United States, which included developing a system where states and Indian tribes could submit plans to USDA for approval to administer hemp production in their areas. To date, 42 states including Kansas manage USDA approved plans. Growers in the eight remaining states work directly with USDA.  

Industrial hemp can be grown outside in dryland conditions, under irrigation or in a greenhouse. It can be grown for fiber, seed or CBD, and each will require different seed varieties and different production systems. Kansas State University resources can be found at the Northwest Research-Extension Centerthe John C. Pair Centerand laboratory testing is available at the K-State Olathe Campus. 

The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) began surveying annual acreage data in 2021, releasing the National Hemp Report early the following year. Here is NASSs April 19, 2023 PowerPoint presentation.  

Industrial hemp is low in active tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that makes some cannabis varieties a valued drug. For example, THC levels of industrial hemp are required to be no more than 0.3 percent, compared to THC levels of between 3 to 30 percent in marijuana2. Despite this, in the United States, production is controlled under drug enforcement laws, and growers must obtain a permit from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). American Farm Bureau (AFBF) policy 204 / Industrial Hemp, 1.1.1 states, “We support, the production, processing, commercialization and utilization of hemp and that it be regulated by USDA rather than DEA.” 

The 2018 farm bill specifies requirements that all hemp producers must meet, including those in state-managed programs. These include licensing requirements; recordkeeping requirements for maintaining information about the land where hemp is produced; procedures for testing the THC concentration levels for hemp; procedures for disposing of non-compliant plants; compliance provisions; and procedures for handling violations.  

Clearly, there are costs to administering industrial hemp programs. In the 2021 final rule, the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) estimated those costs to be $1,283 per grower. AMS, which administers the overall program and works specifically with producers in states without programs, does not charge growers fees for licensing or to support AMS efforts. The fee structure developed by States and Indian Tribes to administer their hemp programs is considered outside the purview of USDA3, but AMS has worked to provide States and Indian Tribes flexibility to administer their hemp programs, including whether to allow performance-based sampling, which is designed to reduce the burden on all producers, large and small. AFBF policy 204 1.1.8 states under we support, Federal and state funding for all required regulatory oversight.” 

AFBF policy 204 / Industrial Hemp, is separate and apart from AFBF policy on marijuana, which is largely covered in policy 159 / Narcotics and Substance Abuse. Policy 204 / Industrial Hemp lists 25 separate policies touching on testing, regulation, standards and research to name a few. 

In February of 2024, the Kansas Farm Bureau (KFB) Hay and Forage Advisory toured South Bend Industrial Hemp in Great Bend. The committee discussed the issue of growing industrial hemp in Kansas, reviewed available Farm Bureau policy and made the following recommendation for State Policy Development, which will be presented to the KFB Board of Directors in March of 2024. 


AG-NEW Kansas Industrial Hemp Program 

We support the right for farmers to grow Industrial Hemp in Kansas in accordance with federal law and Kansas Department of Agriculture management of the program. We support efforts to expand opportunities for industrial hemp cultivation and better aligning with AFBF policy, including its calls for federal and state funding of all required regulatory oversight. Efforts to improve the Kansas industrial hemp program include: 

  • Increasing the license range between non conjoining farm tracts; 

  • Better aligning the program with AFBF Policy #204, Industrial Hemp; 

  • Supporting legislation that delineates industrial hemp grain and fiber from cannabinoid floral hemp by definition and regulation, including removing background checks for industrial hemp grown for grain, fiber or industrial seed production. 

Explanation: Industrial hemp is a potential crop alternative for Kansas farmers and ranchers but its relationship to cannabis has made it challenging for lawmakers and regulators and onerous for farmers to try it. For example, regulatory costs and fees for a farmer to grow even a small plot in Kansas are upwards of $1,500, potentially making it cost-prohibitive for many farmers wanting to try itFor comparison, the estimated average fees for the three state programs surrounding Kansas are $605. Additionally, two separate plots in Kansas, not in the same section and more than one-half mile away would require two separate licenses and fees. The Hay and Forage advisory committee supports efforts to separate KFB industrial hemp policy from our policy on marijuana, to better align it with AFBF industrial hemp policy, and to make the Kansas Industrial Hemp program more farmer friendly. 

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Table 2 is from the Kansas Industrial Hemp Homepage. Note: KS House Bill 2168 if passed into law, would reduce the state licensing fee for hemp producers from $1,200 per year to no more than $500. 


2 Is hemp the same as medical or recreational marijuana? No. While hemp and medical marijuana come from the same genus plant and contain many of the same chemical compounds, the concentration of compounds can be vastly different. The legal difference is the amount of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) the plant contains. If the cannabis plant contains more than 0.3% THC it is considered marijuana. 

3 In 2021, Cannabis Business Times published a state-by-state guide to hemp cultivation and processing license fees KFB staff has not verified these costs, but it should be noted that the costs of operating these programs will likely vary substantially based on whether it is an industrial hemp programhemp/marijuana program or one that includes both.