Hemp could soon be on its way to a farm field near you, thanks to the Iowa Senate's approval of a bill authorizing the its production and processing. Senate File 599, passed on a 49-1 vote, would legalize the production of hemp - a non-psychoactive member of the cannabis family - but limit producers to planting and harvesting no more than 40 acres each year, KMALand reports. It would also set up a fund managed by the state to handle fees, appropriations and other revenue generated by industrial production, according to the Quad-City Times. State Sen. Kevin Kinney of Oxford said that projections show the hemp industry growing to nearly $2 billion by 2022, and that it could offer a new cash crop for Iowa farmers. The bill now heads to the House.
Wells Enterprises, the LeMars-based owner of Blue Bunny, has purchased Fieldbrook Foods of New York state, expanding the company's ice cream empire to the east. Wells purchased Fieldbrook from Arbor Investments for an undisclosed sum, the Des Moines Register reports. The deal will allow Wells to better serve its customers on the East Coast, and create a combined company of 3,800 employees capable of producing close to 200 million gallons of ice cream, according to KMEG. President and CEO Michael Wells tells Food Business News the deal is part of the company's long-term growth strategy, noting that "ice cream is a challenging category ... it continues to grow in dollars and is relatively flat in per capita consumption and pound produced. In that environment, you've either got to go steal share or you've got to acquire it."
With trade talks heating up, Reuters reports that China may lift a ban on U.S. poultry and buy more pork to meet a growing supply deficit, but that it is not willing to allow a growth drug used in roughly half of U.S. hog herds. Such a deal could be a temporary boon to U.S. producers, as China's hog herds are being devastated from African swine fever, and poultry imports from the U.S. have been banned since 2015 - although many farmers remain concerned that the Trump administration will ultimately allow retaliatory tariffs to remain in place, Bloomberg notes. China is reportedly seeking a "two-way street," Reuters reports, and wants to be able to export poultry products to the United States.
A former president of Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo is in the running to be president once again. The college yesterday named Greg Schmitz, president of Hawkeye from 2005-2010, as one of four finalists for the position, the Courier reports. Currently serving as president of CVT Group in Cedar Falls and vice president of urban development group Eagle View Partners, Mr. Schmitz will participate in two public forums today. He joins two others already interviewed: Wendy Mihm-Herold, vice president for business and community solutions at Northeast Iowa Community College, and Kristie Fisher, senior director of national associations and market engagement at ACT in Iowa City. 
With Rep. Dave Loebsack's recent announcement that he will retire from his House seat in 2020, speculation is ramping up on who will run to replace him in the Second District. On the Democratic side, state Sen. Zach Wahls of Coralville and former state Sen. Rita Hart - Fred Hubbell's choice for lieutenant governor in 2018 - are among the most frequent names mentioned, Roll Call reports. Iowa City entrepreneur Veronica Tessler has also been floated by Johnson County Democrats, although she has not indicated any intentions to run, the Press-Citizen notes.

Among Republicans, state Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, previous Second District contender Christopher Peters and former state Sen. Mariannette Miller-Meeks could all be in the mix; Roll Call also floated Fort Madison Mayor Brad Randolph and state Sen. Chris Cournoyer as potential candidates. Whoever decides to run, expect the race to be a "toss up."
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CommuteYour Morning Commute
Roads are looking clear this morning, aside from some congestion on I-380. See the DOT's interactive road conditions map here. 
Links as of 7 a.m.