USDA to Issue New Policy Implementing McConnell Hemp Initiative
I impressed upon USDA the need to finalize this new framework before the 2020 growing season. And I’d like to thank Secretary Perdue and the USDA for fulfilling this commitment with the announcement we are expecting later this morning…It’s a privilege for me to stand with Kentucky farmers every step of the way. Together, we’ll continue charting hemp’s course into the future’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding today’s announcement by U.S. Department of Agriculture regarding its release of the new regulatory framework implementing Senator McConnell’s hemp initiative allowing hemp to be cultivated nationwide:
“When I joined President Trump last year as he signed the farm bill, we marked a new chapter for an historic American crop.
“In a victory for growers, processors, and manufacturers across the country—especially in my home state of Kentucky—my initiative for full hemp legalization became law.
“Now, this morning, the U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to take the important next step. Secretary Perdue will release a new USDA regulation to implement my initiative and move hemp closer to being treated just like every other commodity.
“This new policy will help farmers around the country continue pioneering this crop into the 21st century. And I’m proud to say Kentucky is prepared to take the lead.
“For generations, our growers and producers have made the Bluegrass State an agricultural powerhouse, well-positioned at the forefront of hemp’s resurgence. Following the downturn in the tobacco market, it was my Tobacco Buyout legislation that helped farmers transition toward new opportunities. And a growing number are looking to this past crop—one grown by Washington, Jefferson and Clay—as they plan for the future.
“As the Buyout payments came to an end, I secured the creation of hemp pilot programs in the 2014 farm bill, empowering farmers and researchers to begin a multi-year experiment with hemp’s capabilities.
“Thanks to leaders like Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles and his predecessor, now-Congressman James Comer, Kentucky was leading the charge.
“The results were clear: The pilot program was working. So we knew the 2018 farm bill had to take the next step.
“I’m grateful to Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, who included my hemp initiative in the bill that is now law. I’d also like to thank the many members on both sides of the aisle, including Senator Wyden, who have helped in this effort as well.
“My hemp provisions in the farm bill directed USDA to craft a new regulatory framework so hemp could be cultivated nationwide, with each state given the opportunity to develop its own plan for hemp oversight.
“And I’m grateful Secretary Perdue accepted my invitation for a Kentucky hemp tour so he could see our progress up close and learn from Kentucky hemp farmers and regulators as USDA developed its policy.
“This year alone, hemp is growing on more than 26,000 acres in Kentucky across 101 of our 120 counties. It supports hundreds of jobs and tens of millions in sales.
“So I impressed upon USDA the need to finalize this new framework before the 2020 growing season. And I’d like to thank Secretary Perdue and the USDA for fulfilling this commitment with the announcement we are expecting later this morning.
“I look forward to reviewing USDA’s guidelines and hearing from hemp stakeholders around Kentucky.
“Now our work to support the future of hemp is hardly over. There are ongoing conversations with the FDA on CBD products. Ongoing work to help growers and retailers to access credit and financial products.
“There will inevitably be ups and downs as this new industry develops, but today’s announcement is another crucial step.
“So, it’s a privilege for me to stand with Kentucky farmers every step of the way. Together, we’ll continue charting hemp’s course into the future.”
Related Issues: Farm Bill