'Hemp farmers, processors and manufacturers are exploring the crop's great potential, and I'm proud to work with them every step of the way'
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced several important provisions in the Senate Agriculture Appropriations bill that will benefit Kentucky's growing hemp industry.
Senator McConnell, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations and Agriculture Committees, secured nearly $20 million to implement the hemp provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill as well as to support federal research of hemp.
"Hemp farmers, processors and manufacturers are exploring the crop's great potential, and I'm proud to work with them every step of the way," said Senator McConnell. "With the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill and my hemp legalization provision, it's important to provide the U.S. Department of Agriculture with the resources necessary to get the hemp program up and running. Once enacted, this federal funding will benefit this exciting new industry."
Kentucky has been at the forefront of hemp production ever since the authorization of industrial hemp pilot programs established by Senator McConnell's provision in the 2014 Farm Bill. Last December, President Trump signed into law the 2018 Farm Bill, which included Senator McConnell's initiative to legalize hemp as an agricultural commodity by removing it from the federal list of controlled substances.
"As Senate Majority Leader, I'm constantly looking for ways to secure federal resources for Kentucky's priorities, and I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues in Congress to send these Kentucky accomplishments to the president's desk," McConnell added.
Senator McConnell secured the following items in the Senate Agriculture Appropriations bill, which now must be approved by the full Senate:
- ·$16.5 million for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to implement the hemp provisions of the 2018 Farm Bill.
- ·$2.5 million for the research of hemp through Agriculture Research Service (ARS) sites – like those in Lexington and Bowling Green, Kentucky.
- ·A measure encouraging the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue formal enforcement discretion guidance for CBD products. This guidance would remain in place until FDA finalizes a permanent legal pathway for the products moving forward.
- ·A provision directing the Farm Credit Administration to offer services to hemp producers and businesses.
- ·A prohibition on the federal government from banning the transfer, production or sale of hemp in accordance with the 2014 Farm Bill.
- ·Support for competitive USDA grants for hemp projects.
Senator McConnell has used his position as a senior member of the Appropriations Committee to insert provisions in yearly appropriations bills to ensure hemp produced from the pilot programs could be transported, processed and marketed without interference from the federal government. Under the guidance of Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles and his predecessor, now-U.S. Representative James Comer (R-KY), these programs have allowed Kentucky farmers to both research the plant and to demonstrate its potential as a viable cash crop.
Agriculture leaders from around the country are looking to the Bluegrass State's prospering hemp industry, and Kentucky farmers are benefiting from hemp's resurgence. So far, 101 of Kentucky's 120 counties are growing the crop with more than 200 processors operating statewide. Earlier this year, Commissioner Quarles announced that approximately $100 million worth of Kentucky-grown and processed hemp products are expected to be sold this year alone. Senator McConnell is committed to continue working with state and federal government agencies to support Kentucky hemp farmers, processors and manufacturers as they take full advantage of this hemp revolution.