US (NE): Farm goes from "this is not cannabis" to "this is industrial hemp"

After their half-acre test plot started drawing too much attention — they could hear cars slowing on the gravel road, and then stopping — the family farmers put up a sign: This is not cannabis.

They did not blame drivers for their confusion. A year ago, and for about 15 years before that, the patch of land had been planted with brome grass, but, as this summer unfolded, the plot appeared to be packed with cannabis.

“We had lots and lots of people looking at it,” said Rosemary Reed, one of the farm’s co-owners. “And lots of people stopping.” Their sign elaborated: This is industrial hemp.

It was more than that. That half-acre by the road, and a similarly sized plot behind it, represented a grand experiment: Can a fifth-generation, 310-acre farm long dependent on corn and soybeans change directions, and pursue what its owners see as an environmentally friendlier and more sustainable future? Can it say goodbye to four-digit anhydrous ammonia bills and the need for pesticides and the volatility of commodity prices? "It’s trying," said Alice Reed, co-owner. 

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