A bipartisan bill proposed in the U.S. Senate would reduce regulations for hemp farmers producing grain and fiber. The legislation, introduced last week by Sens. John Tester (D-MT) and Mike Braun (R-IN), would end background checks for farmers who are only growing the crop for fiber and grain and end mandatory sampling and testing of crops grown only for fiber or grain.
In a statement, National Hemp Association Executive Director Erica Stark said that the current federal regulatory framework “revolves around the perceived risk of cannabinoids,” which “makes it untenable for hemp to be placed in a rotation with other common commodity crops like corn, soy, or wheat.”
Tester, in a statement, said “It’s time we cut red tape, and make it easier for industrial hemp farmers to get their product to market.”
“Montana farmers don’t need government bureaucrats putting unnecessary burdens on their operations,” he said.
Chad Rosen, CEO and founder of Victory Hemp Foods, noted that in Kentucky in the years that followed the federal reforms, the hemp industry “started strong” but after a couple of years his company “found it increasingly difficult to attract acreage from the farms best equipped to grow our grain varieties.”
“Not because of agronomic challenges, but because growing hemp seed requires clearing excessive regulatory hurdles. We have all the resources we need to grow this crop in proximity to our processing center in Kentucky, but frustratingly can’t attract the farmers because the hassle and risk do not justify the return for the farmer,” he said in a statement. “Hemp seed will never be more than a niche crop as long as we treat it so differently from the major row crops. There is no risk to consumers, farmers, or their neighbors in exempting hemp for grain and fiber from these onerous regulations. For farmers that are growing hemp grain, providing a regulatory exemption will help us bring our supply chain back home.”
The measure is currently in the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. (Full Story)