Did you know June 4th - June 10th is Hemp History Week? You can find out more about Deep Roots and their campaign to restore strong support for industrial hemp farming in the United States here!
In light of Hemp History Week, the U.S. Senate, without objection from any lawmaker of either party, adopted legislation on Tuesday recognizing "the growing economic potential of industrial hemp" as well as its "historical relevance." Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell who introduced the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 in April would establish hemp as an agricultural commodity, keep the federal government’s hands off state laws that allow hemp farming, add hemp to the list of federally insurable crops and increase research into the plant’s uses.
This is a huge movement for the hemp industry. Despite the legitimate uses of hemp, many agricultural producers of the United States are prohibited under current law from growing hemp or any raw hemp material. This leads to imported hemp for sale in the United States.
"Securing the Hemp Farming Act as part of the 2018 Farm Bill has been a top priority of mine. ... I look forward to continuing to work with my Senate colleagues on this and many other issues important to Kentucky agriculture as we move towards consideration of the Farm Bill," McConnell said in a statement.
McConnell's bill would fully legalize hemp production in the U.S. It would remove the hemp plant from being a Schedule 1 drug under the Drug Enforcement Agency and allow USDA to oversee hemp production much like the department does for any other crop. Giving USDA some jurisdiction over the crop would allow for the possibility of farmers to buy crop insurance, for instance, or offer other forms of assistance available to specialty crop growers.
"That's the main thing that McConnell's bill will help with is opening up hemp to mainstream -- researchers, investors, crop insurance," said Cynthiana, Kentucky, farmer Brian Furnish, one of the earliest advocates for re-establishing hemp in Kentucky. "Right now, we can't get offered crop insurance or any USDA programs. It's critical that you have a majority leader that this is his No. 1 AG issue. And he sees the benefits of it."
The senators sponsoring the hemp resolution approved on Tuesday each issued statements about it:
"It's long overdue that we reverse the misguided ban on growing hemp in the United States and recognize the realities of science and the economy in the 21st Century. Removing the commonsense-defying restrictions on the domestic growth of hemp will unlock hemp’s full potential to bolster American agriculture, create good-paying jobs and support our economy. I’m going to keep working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make it legal once again to grow hemp in this country, by passing our Hemp Farming Act into law.”
“Since Kentucky’s earliest days, industrial hemp has played a foundational role in our agricultural history and economy. With our Hemp Farming Act of 2018, I believe that hemp can also be an important part of our future. Removing hemp from the federal list of controlled substances will give our farm communities the opportunity to explore the potential of this versatile crop. I am proud to join with farmers, processors and manufacturers across Kentucky to celebrate Hemp History Week as we work together on the plant’s growing future.”
“Industrial hemp has had a long and productive history in the U.S., and it's time to revive that history now for the 21st Century. Outdated policies should not stand in the way of our American farmers growing a crop that is already used to make products sold all across the U.S.”
“I am pleased to see the Senate acknowledge hemp’s historical importance by passing our resolution to declare this ‘Hemp History Week,’ and I urge the Senate to take the next step by passing our Hemp Farming Act. It’s time for our farmers to be free to fully compete in this industry on the world stage and to reverse an outdated prohibition that has held back Kentucky’s economy."