With a flag emblazoned with “Let Farmers Grow Hemp” in the distance on June 9, two farmers planted Nebraska’s first private hemp crop in recent history.

The Bish brothers (Jacob and Andrew) said they wore tee-shirts made from hemp with the words “Return of the Plant” printed on them while they put the hemp seeds the ground.

The plot will be the first legal non-university hemp plot to be grown in Nebraska since the 1950s.

The family has been leading advocates for hemp production in Nebraska for four years. They operate Bish Enterprises, which manufactures farm equipment near Giltner, about 10 miles southeast of Grand Island.

The Bish brothers decided to grow two small test plots this year using Nebraska Heirloom Hemp (also known as feral hemp, wild hemp, or sometimes referred to as ditch-weed). Nebraska Heirloom Hemp is exempted from the Nebraska Department of Agriculture licensing requirements, under Section 4 of the Nebraska Hemp Farming Act that the legislature passed. The brothers say the bill went into effect on May 30.

Their goals this year are two-fold. To identify qualities that Nebraska Heirloom Hemp may have relative to the current or future marketplace and “to just get some hemp planted so we can get this movement of growing hemp in Nebraska underway. Somebody has to start.”

“Hemp is the future of agriculture,” said Jacob Bish, “and the adoption of hemp in agricultural driven states, such as Nebraska, marks a real turning point in turning hemp from a specialty crop to a real commodity in the U.S.”

The Bish Brothers are planting two plots, one to research the seed and stalk characteristics when planted as a traditional row-crop, and a second plot to identify the spectrum of cannabinoids found in the flower.

The first plot will be a traditional row-crop. The second plot will be grown in vegetable style, which will require much more attention and labor.

The brothers said they tried to work with the University of Nebraska this year on a research plot, but the state Department of Agriculture did not approve.

“So, we will do the right thing on our own,” Andrew Bish said., “We are breaking zero laws, and we are laying the foundation of a huge economic boost that Nebraska farmers need. Today is about helping Nebraska farmers, the backbone of this states economy.