U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, was successful in securing the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 in the Senate Farm Bill, which was released today. Senator McConnell, a senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, worked with Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-KS, to ensure that his legislation to legalize industrial hemp was included in the farm policy bill. The Senate Agriculture Committee will officially consider the legislation on June 13.
In April, Senator McConnell introduced the bipartisan measure with Senators Ron Wyden, D-OR, Rand Paul, R-KY, and Jeff Merkley, D-OR, and it has garnered support from an additional 24 Senators. This development comes at an appropriate time as earlier this week the Senators cheered the passage of their bipartisan resolution designating June 4 to 10, “Hemp History Week.”
The Hemp Farming Act legalizes hemp as an agricultural commodity by removing it from the list of controlled substances. It also 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.
“Securing the Hemp Farming Act as part of the 2018 farm bill has been a top priority of mine. I would like to thank Chairman Roberts and the cosponsors of the Hemp Farming Act—especially Senator Wyden and Representative James Comer in the House—for supporting those efforts. 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,” said Sen. McConnell. “As a result of the hemp pilot program, which I secured in the 2014 farm bill, Kentucky’s farmers, processors, and manufacturers have begun to show the potential for this versatile crop. Today’s announcement will build upon that progress to help the Commonwealth enhance its standing at the forefront of hemp’s return to American agriculture. I look forward to continuing to work with my Senate colleagues and my partners in Kentucky – including Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles—to grow hemp’s bright future.”
“Hemp has proven itself as a job-creating growth industry with far-reaching economic potential. It’s just common sense that farmers in Oregon and across our country should be allowed to cultivate this cash crop,” said Wyden, the lead Democratic sponsor. “Our bipartisan legislation strikes America’s outdated anti-hemp laws from the books so American consumers can buy products made with hemp grown in America. I’m grateful to Sen. McConnell for his leadership in getting the Hemp Farming Act into the Senate Farm Bill and I’m proud to keep working with our bipartisan cosponsors—Sens. Merkley and Paul—to pass our bill into law.”
The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 builds upon the 2014 farm bill, which included a provision secured by Sen. McConnell to legalize hemp pilot programs. Congressman James Comer, R-KY, is the leading voice on the issue in the House of Representatives.
The Senate farm bill must now be approved by the full committee. Following approval, it will go the Senate floor for consideration.