U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced that the Senate passed the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (“Farm Bill”), which takes serious steps to ensure the future of American agriculture – including industrial hemp cultivation and research.
The Senate Farm Bill contains a provision that would empower farmers to begin cultivating industrial hemp, a crop that could play a key role in the economic future of the nation. The bill also includes Senator McConnell’s measure, The Hemp Farming Act of 2018, to legalize hemp as an agricultural commodity by removing it from the federal list of controlled substances. Furthermore, it gives states the opportunity to become the primary regulators of hemp production, allows hemp researchers to apply for competitive federal grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and makes hemp farmers eligible to apply for crop insurance.
“Last year alone, Kentucky hemp recorded more than $16 million in product sales through the state pilot program I previously secured, demonstrating that hemp holds great potential for the future of Kentucky agriculture,” Senator McConnell added. “For far too long, the federal government has prevented most farmers from growing hemp. Although it was a foundational part of Kentucky’s heritage and today you can buy hemp products at stores across the country, most American farmers have been barred from planting it in their fields. I have heard from many Kentucky farmers who agree it’s time to remove the federal hurdles and give our state the opportunity to seize its full potential and once again become the national leader for hemp production. That is why I strongly advocated for this measure to be included in the Farm Bill, which will finally and fully legalize industrial hemp.”
“For farmers across America, there is no piece of legislation more important than the Farm Bill,” said Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles. “I am particularly excited to see that the full text of Leader McConnell’s Hemp Farming Act of 2018 made it into this bipartisan bill. This Farm Bill will allow state departments of agriculture, like Kentucky’s, to unleash the full economic potential of industrial hemp pilot programs. I applaud Leader McConnell for his tireless advocacy for Kentucky farmers.”