The first industrial hemp processing plant in the Midwest is set to open in Great Bend, Kansas, in the coming months. After decades of being outlawed in the state — Kansas legalized the growing of hemp in 2019.
"For CBD originally and some fiber. We've transitioned more into fiber and grain production," stated Industrial Hemp Co-owner Aaron Baldwin. "Farmers are interested, but they don't have a place to take their crop like they would corn, soybeans, milo."
There was never an industrial hemp processing plant for hundreds of miles, taking away the opportunity for many farmers to grow hemp.
This was when the Baldwin's stepped up to the challenge — getting ready to open the state's first processing plant for hemp fiber and grain.
"Getting to pioneer a new industry is exciting," stated South Bend Industrial Hemp Co-owner Melissa Nelson-Baldwin.
What is Hemp?
Hemp's rise in popularity is due to the potentially healthful and helpful substances that can be extracted from hemp, including Delta 8.
Hemp is the common name for a variety of the plant Cannabis sativa. To be classified as hemp, a plant cannot contain more than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
From stalk to seed, the whole hemp plant can also be used to make fuel and feedstock. For more specific applications, hemp can be divided into four categories:
- Bast fibers
- Hurds, or shives
- Leaves and flowers
Hemp Farmers and the Midwest
Industrial fiber hemp grows well in Kansas. Jason Griffin, Ph.D., who runs the John C. Pair Horticultural Center in Haysville and researches hemp for Kansas State University, recently stated during Wichita State University's hemp conference that there are enormous opportunities in hemp fiber.
With a processing facility in the middle of Kansas, the Baldwins hope to inspire more farmers to grow and benefit from growing hemp.
"If we can really get this and further educate the public and somehow reduce the negative stigma that comes with the cannabis plant, it's only up from here," stated South Bend Industrial Hemp Co-owner Melissa Nelson-Baldwin.