McConnell Hemp Provision Will Soon Become Law
‘The Farm Bill we passed yesterday both legalizes hemp as an agricultural commodity and removes it from the controlled substances list. It gives states the opportunity to be the primary overseers of hemp production. It also allows hemp researchers to apply for competitive federal grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and made hemp eligible for crop insurance. Together, these features will encourage new opportunities for struggling farmers and their families. New products for use in cons
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the Farm Bill’s pro-hemp provision and the Senate’s remaining business for the year:
“The end of the year is fast approaching. There are a number of important items left on the Senate’s agenda and little time to address them. We will clear more of the president’s well-qualified executive branch and judicial nominees from the calendar. We will consider updated legislation supported by the administration to address criminal justice. And we need to pass an agreement to fill the remaining gaps in appropriations, including critical funding for securing our borders.
“Fortunately, the Senate took a major step yesterday by passing the Farm Bill. We got that much closer to delivering a big shot in the arm to farmers and rural communities across the country. Along with providing certainty to agricultural communities, I am especially proud that the legislation will open a new door for farmers in Kentucky and around the country to explore the full potential of industrial hemp.
“This is the culmination of a lot of work by a number of us here in Washington. But really, the victory is for the growers, processors, manufacturers, and consumers who stand to benefit from this growing marketplace. American hemp has a long and distinguished history. Some of this very body’s notable figures – including Thomas Jefferson and Henry Clay – are believed to have grown it. During World War II, the federal government even encouraged hemp production to support the war effort.
“Unfortunately, because of hemp’s illicit cousin, marijuana, the federal government subsequently banned it altogether for generations. In 2013, Kentucky agricultural leaders showed me hemp’s incredible potential for the Bluegrass State. We decided it was time to let America’s farmers show everyone what hemp could do.
“First, I included experimental pilot programs for states like Kentucky in the 2014 Farm Bill. And the results have been undeniable. Hemp has quickly become a booming success. Its uses range from food and pharmaceuticals to home insulation and automotive parts. Enthusiastic farmers quickly applied to plant the crop in their fields. Entrepreneurs opened businesses selling hemp-based products. And consumers got to enjoy a whole new set of goods featuring American-made hemp.
“In my home state alone, farmers grew in excess of 3,200 acres of hemp in 2017. This year, the number of acres more than doubled. Estimates show that, once legalized, sales from hemp will soon surpass $1 billion. Watching this remarkable success, we knew it was time to take the next step. I introduced legislation to finally and fully legalize hemp.
“Working with agriculture leaders and law enforcement in Kentucky and here in Washington, we built support. And as a member of the Agriculture Committee, I was proud that the legislation was included in the Senate’s version of the Farm Bill. I was proud to serve personally on the Conference Committee to ensure that language stayed in place. And yesterday, the Senate passed that conference report. The House will pass it as early as later today, and this provision and the rest of the Farm Bill will be on its way to President Trump’s desk to become law.
“So what exactly will this legislation do? The Farm Bill we passed yesterday both legalizes hemp as an agricultural commodity and removes it from the controlled substances list. It gives states the opportunity to be the primary overseers of hemp production. It also allows hemp researchers to apply for competitive federal grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and made hemp eligible for crop insurance. Together, these features will encourage new opportunities for struggling farmers and their families. New products for use in construction, health care, and manufacturing. And new jobs in a broad range of fields.
“I’ve been honored to gain many partners throughout this process. Here in the Senate, thanks to the leading Democratic cosponsor of our original bill, Sen. Wyden, and to my Kentucky colleague Senator Paul. Congressman Jamie Comer has championed hemp for years and sponsored our legislation in the House. And in Kentucky, Commissioner Ryan Quarles has been a longtime ally of this crop’s bright future in our Commonwealth. I look forward to the House passing our Farm Bill soon and sending it to President Trump for signature. I’d be happy to loan him my hemp pen for the occasion.
“Later today, the Senate will vote on an attempt by some of our Democratic colleagues to undo a pro-privacy reform that Secretary Mnuchin and the Treasury Department implemented just a few months ago. As I discussed yesterday, there is neither any valid accounting reason nor a disclosure reason why the IRS needs access to the donor lists of the kinds of tax-exempt nonprofit organizations in question.
“The Treasury Department has said ‘the IRS simply does not need tax returns with donor names and addresses to do its job in this area.’ In a climate that is increasingly hostile to certain kinds of political expression and open debate, the last thing Washington D.C. needs to do is chill the exercise of free speech and add to the sense of intimidation. The Senate should take a stand for Americans’ privacy and the First Amendment, and reject this misguided resolution.”