U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack speaks to members of the media during a news conference at the History Colorado Center, in Denver, Tuesday, May 20, 2014. (Brennan Linsley, The Associated Press)

Fixing hemp farming problems a priority, says U.S. Ag Secretary

DENVER — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says he’s trying to work with the Department of Justice to allow the importation of hemp seeds for cultivation.

The farm bill signed into law this year allows the industrial production of hemp. But two states that want to grow the crop are having a hard time obtaining the seeds they need. Kentucky has sued the federal government to force it to release hemp seeds. Colorado is waiting on Vilsack’s go-ahead to get seeds from Canada.

All things Hemp: Learn more about growing hemp in Colorado and read reviews for products that utilize this cannabis cousin of marijuana.

Vilsack spoke Tuesday at a news conference in Denver on the upcoming wildfire season. He says his agency is trying to resolve a conflict between what the farm bill permits and what federal drug laws prohibit.

Vilsack says large-scale hemp cultivation represents an “extraordinary income opportunity.” He says he’s discussed the issue with Attorney General Eric Holder.

Hemp is the non-intoxicating agricultural cousin of marijuana.

This story was first published on DenverPost.com