Metro hemp conference offers guidance, caution for local growers

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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- Expectations are soaring, in some circles, for Missouri’s first legal industrial hemp harvest in 70 years.

“Well I’d say, 'Slow down and take it easy,'" said Bill Cook with the Missouri Hemp Association.

After a pilot program last year, Missouri growers, once they’ve attained a license, can now grow hemp and sell the fruits of their harvest to a buyer in the rapidly growing CBD oil industry.

It's important to know that hemp isn't marijuana. It's a so-call "cannabis cousin" with only trace amounts of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.

Cook is certain it's poised to be a multi-billion dollar industry, so while he’s eager to offer guidance and assistance, he’s urging newcomers to understand the inherent risks.

“Take a deep breath, make sure you have a buyer, understand the crop, understand your plant, how to harvest it, dry it,” Cook said. “So you have to understand the system.”

To help longtime farmers and newcomers to the agriculture industry, Cook’s Missouri Hemp Association is hosting a two-day seminar at the Stoney Creek Hotel & Conference Center in Independence.

Cook said the Missouri Hemp Association is offering anyone interested in harvesting hemp an acre of land at $1,000 year to learn the ropes.

“It’s low risk, one acre,” Cook said. “We like to see you start really, really small so you don’t get yourself in trouble.”

Steve Uehlin from St. Joseph is a longtime farmer with 1,500 acres who's willing to grow a modest hemp crop this growing season.

“Well there’s not very much money in regular grain farming now,” Uehlin said. “So we’re just looking at alternatives for income.”

The Agricultural Hemp Classic Conference continues on Thursday at the Stoney Creek Hotel & Conference Center. It's open to anyone, with an admission of $200 for those who aren't members of the Missouri Hemp Association.

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