Before South Dakota lawmakers wrapped up the legislative session, they passed a bill to legalize hemp production. State House Agriculture Committee Chair and farmer Tom Brunner is pleased with the accomplishment. Money was the big hang-up in discussions. “In the end we put the appropriation on and next year, if we get there and haven’t spent all the money it’s still there. We think it was an unnecessary guardrail that was put on. A lot of politics played in it.” Governor Kristi Noem hasn’t signed the bill as of Monday morning. State representative Oren Lesmeister says the governor was still reviewing the language of the bill last week. According to Lesmeister, the bill could become law this week if Noem doesn’t sign it. If the bill becomes law, the state agriculture department would need to approve state rules for the hemp program. Brunner says there’s lots of pressure on the South Dakota Department of Agriculture to setup inspectors, registration and manufacturing in the next few months. Brunner says it can be a big jump, especially for new growers. “Our pilot program is North Dakota, I guess. All we can do is sit and watch what other states have done and learn from that.”
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