Two U.S. Senators have introduced legislation aiming to ease the regulatory burden on farmers across the USA who grow grain and fiber hemp.
Under current U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) rules, all hemp crops are subject to compliance testing whether or not they are being grown for cannabinoid extraction.
Senators Jon Tester’s (D-Mont.) and Mike Braun’s (R-Ind.) bipartisan Industrial Hemp Act seeks to exempt farmers only growing industrial (i.e. non-cannabinoid) hemp from the background checks and costly sampling and testing protocols. However, farmers would still be subject to review to ensure strict compliance standards are being met; and those that fall afoul of the rules would be barred from participating in the USA’s domestic hemp production program for five years.
“It’s time we cut red tape, and make it easier for industrial hemp farmers to get their product to market,” said Senator Tester. “My bipartisan bill builds on Montana’s leadership on hemp policy and creates good-paying jobs for folks across rural America.”
Senator Braun said the legislation will expand opportunities for industrial hemp producers in his state and across the USA.
“It’s important that we set American farmers up for success by cutting burdensome regulations and red tape.”
The legislation has the support of various industry groups, including the Midwest Hemp Council.
“The Industrial Hemp Act of 2023 will reduce unnecessary regulatory barriers for our farmers and provide them with the certainty needed to continue to invest their time and treasure into meeting the growing demand for hemp grain and fiber crops across the country,” said the group’s president, Justin Swanson. “It’s time to unleash the ingenuity of the American farmer.”
The Industrial Hemp Act of 2023 is considered to be a critical piece of legislation separating fiber and grain (industrial) hemp from cannabinoid crops.
Trivia: In 2021, an estimated 54,152 acres of industrial hemp was planted out in the open in the USA, and the total area harvested for the year was 33,480 acres. The value of hemp production in the open for totaled an estimated USD $712 million.