The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, which includes legalizing hemp cultivation nationwide, was passed 20-1 by the Senate Agriculture Committee on June 13. A full Senate vote is expected before Congress’ July 4 recess. The House is struggling with passing a farm bill, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is hopeful that the House will vote soon.
McConnell touted hemp’s ability to help farmers in Kentucky who have struggled as demand for tobacco continues to decrease, CNBC reports. He also mentioned increasing interest in hemp farming across the country. It is an attractive crop due to is massive versatility of uses ranging from a food, health supplements, body care products, textiles and building materials.
“I know there are farming communities all over the country who are interested in this. Mine are particularly interested in it, and the reason for that is – as all of you know – our No.1 cash crop used to be something that’s really not good for you: tobacco. And that has declined significantly, as it should, given the public health concerns” said McConnell. “Younger farmers in my state are particularly interested in going in this direction. We have a lot of people in my state who are extremely enthusiastic about the possibilities. As we all know, hemp is very diversified.”
McConnell continued, “It’s time to figure it out and see where this market will take us. I think it’s an important new development in American agriculture. There’s plenty of hemp around; it’s coming from other countries. Why in the world would we want a lot of it not to come from here?”
The Hemp Farming Act is part of the Senate’s farm bill. Further passage would also remove industrial hemp from the federal controlled substances list. The current version of the farm bill expires on September 30. Traditionally, it is renewed every five years.