Industrial hemp new star crop in Montana agriculture - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

Industrial hemp new star crop in Montana agriculture

Posted: Updated:

"It has taken 17 years to finally get our first crop in the ground."

In 2001, industrial hemp became legal to grow in Montana. And considering it's one of the fastest growing crops around, it's amazing how long it took to actually be planted in Montana soil.

"We have about six hundred miles that we share with our Canadian neighbors, and they're making good money on industrial hemp, whereas Montana's making not one penny," says Chris Christiaens, lobbyist for Montana Farmers Union. 

The new industry is thanks mostly to Chris, who, although it's been 17 years,  continues to lobby for Montana farmers; in fact he's so busy, the only time our reporter could get an interview with him was on the road. 

"He said, oh Chris, he said this bill goes way too far, he said you'll never get this passed," Chris remarked, as he told the story of trying to pass legislation for industrial hemp. 

Senate Bill 261 did pass, with zero amendments. And Chris says the possibilities for industrial hemp uses are almost endless.

"Bedding plant...Mortar...Road building, bridge decks...Oil seed, all cosmetics," That list goes on. 

So why did it take Montana so long to catch on? Chris says the reason is misconceptions over it's "cannabinoid" status. 

According to the North American Industrial Hemp Council, industrial hemp has a THC content of between 0.05 and 1%.

"You could smoke a truckload and get sick before you ever got any feeling of marijuana from it."

Chad Doheny is a pulse crop farmer just north of Dutton. He went so far as to get the license to grow industrial hemp, but decided at the last minute the risks were too great. 

"There's just not enough info or consistency in what people say about it yet. I talked to insurance companies who weren't certain at all if they would insure you if you had hemp...it seems like a real easy way to lose your farm."

But now, ten different farmers in Montana are growing hemp, and so far, they report the crop is looking incredible. Chris isn't surprised, and is already looking towards the future. 

"As we see small town, rural Montana getting smaller all the time, we need to be thinking about other uses of diverse crops that can allow these small towns and the people who live in these communities to survive."

Harvesting season for Montana's hemp crop will be any day now. In Canada they tend to harvest their hemp in late September, and Chris says we usually run about a month or two ahead of them. 

  • Most Popular

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Public Notification of Violent Sexual Offender

    Public Notification of Violent Sexual Offender

    Friday, August 18 2017 12:26 PM EDT2017-08-18 16:26:01 GMT

    The Great Falls Police Department has sent out a notification for an updated address of a Violent Sexual Predator. His name is Sean Michael Slicker and he is a Tier 3 Sex Offender. 

    The Great Falls Police Department has sent out a notification for an updated address of a Violent Sexual Predator. His name is Sean Michael Slicker and he is a Tier 3 Sex Offender. 

  • John Adam Halverson back in court

    John Adam Halverson back in court

    Friday, August 18 2017 8:38 PM EDT2017-08-19 00:38:34 GMT

    A Vaughn man accused of sexual intercourse without consent is back in court this time looking to change his plea. 

    A Vaughn man accused of sexual intercourse without consent is back in court this time looking to change his plea. 

  • Helena man identified as drowning victim near Lincoln

    Helena man identified as drowning victim near Lincoln

    Friday, August 18 2017 6:41 PM EDT2017-08-18 22:41:27 GMT
    HELENA, Mont. (AP) - Authorities have released the name of a man who was found dead in a creek in western Montana.      The Helena Independent Record reports 50-year-old Warren Kimmelll's body was found north of Lincoln on Aug. 9. Lewis and Clark County Coroner Bryan Backeberg says the Helena man apparently drowned, but he is awaiting toxicology tests before determining an official cause of death.      Investigators believe a stolen car found about 8 mile...
    HELENA, Mont. (AP) - Authorities have released the name of a man who was found dead in a creek in western Montana.      The Helena Independent Record reports 50-year-old Warren Kimmelll's body was found north of Lincoln on Aug. 9. Lewis and Clark County Coroner Bryan Backeberg says the Helena man apparently drowned, but he is awaiting toxicology tests before determining an official cause of death.      Investigators believe a stolen car found about 8 mile...
  • How to spot fake solar eclipse glasses

    How to spot fake solar eclipse glasses

    Tuesday, August 15 2017 8:35 PM EDT2017-08-16 00:35:25 GMT

    Don't get caught with "shady" glasses during the solar eclipse. We have some tips on what to look for before the moon obscures the sun.

    Don't get caught with "shady" glasses during the solar eclipse. We have some tips on what to look for before the moon obscures the sun.

  • One arrested while opposing confederate fountain removal

    One arrested while opposing confederate fountain removal

    Friday, August 18 2017 2:18 PM EDT2017-08-18 18:18:15 GMT

    The City of Helena has begun removing a monument to Confederate soldiers that has been in a park in Montana's capital city since 1916.

    The City of Helena has begun removing a monument to Confederate soldiers that has been in a park in Montana's capital city since 1916.

  • One arrested while opposing confederate fountain removal

    One arrested while opposing confederate fountain removal

    Friday, August 18 2017 2:18 PM EDT2017-08-18 18:18:15 GMT

    The City of Helena has begun removing a monument to Confederate soldiers that has been in a park in Montana's capital city since 1916.

    The City of Helena has begun removing a monument to Confederate soldiers that has been in a park in Montana's capital city since 1916.

  • Couple has "made it" in Townsend glass shop

    Couple has "made it" in Townsend glass shop

    Wednesday, August 16 2017 9:35 PM EDT2017-08-17 01:35:37 GMT

    Jim and Terry Gundersen opened Goose Bay Handblown Glass in 2002... with one goal in mind: "We always felt like we will have arrived once we start finding our glass at garage sales." Jim, a former blacksmith, had no problem transitioning into the business. Terry... well, she sacrificed a lot of sleep.  "The difficult part was that I was still working as a nurse, 12 hour night shifts, and then I would blow glass during the day," says Terry. Jim chimes i...

    Jim and Terry Gundersen opened Goose Bay Handblown Glass in 2002... with one goal in mind: "We always felt like we will have arrived once we start finding our glass at garage sales." Jim, a former blacksmith, had no problem transitioning into the business. Terry... well, she sacrificed a lot of sleep.  "The difficult part was that I was still working as a nurse, 12 hour night shifts, and then I would blow glass during the day," says Terry. Jim chimes i...

  • Attorney General Fox Asks Congress to Amend Sex Trafficking Law

    Attorney General Fox Asks Congress to Amend Sex Trafficking Law

    Wednesday, August 16 2017 6:55 PM EDT2017-08-16 22:55:04 GMT

    The Montana Department of Justice sent out a press release stating that Attorney General Tim Fox joined 49 other state and territorial attorneys general in a bi-partisan coalition urging Congress to amend the Communications Decency Act (CDA) to clarify that states, localities, and territories retain authority to investigate and prosecute facilitators of child sex trafficking wherever they operate, including online. 

    The Montana Department of Justice sent out a press release stating that Attorney General Tim Fox joined 49 other state and territorial attorneys general in a bi-partisan coalition urging Congress to amend the Communications Decency Act (CDA) to clarify that states, localities, and territories retain authority to investigate and prosecute facilitators of child sex trafficking wherever they operate, including online. 

  • Montana, US: clashes over Confederate monuments following Charlottesville

    Montana, US: clashes over Confederate monuments following Charlottesville

    Tuesday, August 15 2017 8:51 PM EDT2017-08-16 00:51:00 GMT
    Credit: Google 2017Credit: Google 2017

    Members of the American Indian Caucus are calling for the removal of a Confederate monument in Helena at Hill Park. Following the events in Charlottesville, VA Representative Shane Morigeau says it's past due that the Helena City Commission remove the statue, which was commissioned by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, a group listed as Neo-Confederate by the Southern Poverty Law Center. 

    Members of the American Indian Caucus are calling for the removal of a Confederate monument in Helena at Hill Park. Following the events in Charlottesville, VA Representative Shane Morigeau says it's past due that the Helena City Commission remove the statue, which was commissioned by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, a group listed as Neo-Confederate by the Southern Poverty Law Center.