IDOA hosts ‘Hemp Summit’ in Springfield

Jeff Cox (left), bureau chief for medicinal plants for the Illinois Department of Agriculture, and John Sullivan (right), director of the department, say Illinois hemp farmers may have planted fifty percent of their fields in 2019. (Dave Dahl/WJBC)


By Dave Dahl

SPRINGFIELD – The first year of legalized hemp growing in Illinois was not without hiccups. And there’s plenty to learn, as the state hosted about 700 people for a “hemp summit” in Springfield Tuesday.

The Department of Agriculture’s bureau chief for medicinal plants, says Illinois hemp farmers probably were able to plan about half their fields. “You look at the national numbers, said Jeff Cox, “some states were as low as 20. Some were as high as 70. I would bet, just from what I have heard from farmers, we’re around the fifty percent range.”

Ag director John Sullivan concurred. “There is no question that hemp growers, just like corn and soybean farmers, have the same challenges trying to get a crop,” he said. Ideally, you’d like to plant it in April or May. A lot of it didn’t get planted until June or July.

“Obviously, right after harvest, we have a very hefty supply of this material right now, with the USDA opening this up for the first year of federal legalization,” said Justin Ward, an entrepreneur and farmer at Stoney Branch Ag Ventures, based in Rushville.

“There is some thought the prices could go back up this spring.”

Dave Dahl can be reached at


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