By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — After years of it being illegal to grow, Minnesota farmers can now grow hemp.

Gov. Tim Walz toured a farm Friday where he spoke of the plant’s future in the state, as its popularity continues to grow nation-wide.

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Just beyond the rows of corn, right in front of the soybeans, sits what some say is the future for Minnesota farmers.

“Having good fertility, which we have, tremendous good fertility here in Minnesota, as an ag state, you know, it’s a great place to grow hemp,” said farmer John Strohfus.

Walz took a stroll through rows of hemp plants on the first farm to grow hemp in Minnesota since the 1950s. The plant is similar to marijuana, but without enough of the chemical for someone to get high.

“This is a product that gives us golden opportunities to use the blessings of this land and the richness of what we have to be able to grow the innovation we have with … the [University of Minnesota] and the advocacy groups here to see all the new innovated ways we can use the product going forward,” Walz said.

Gov. Tim Walz (credit: CBS)

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Minnesota hemp farms produces hemp hearts, seeds, oils for cooking as well as other products like soaps, and even guitar picks. Farmers like Strohfus says what can change the game for Minnesota farmers is a processing plant, to cut down on cost.

“There is a lot of work that needs to be done from the time when the farmer starts harvesting to when they can process it for food product,” Strohfus said.

He says having a facility that can properly dry out and condition the plant so it can be processed later is the missing link in the Minnesota industrial hemp movement.

Walz says this push to help farmers find another cash crop and spur job growth has little to do with his call for farmers to prepare for legalization of recreational cannibals.

The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the federal government’s list of controlled substances. It’s now considered an agricultural crop.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture oversees the state’s pilot industrial hemp program.

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Reg Chapman