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Nov 1, 2019   |  Montana’s Democratic Senator Jon Tester said in a press call Thursday new federal regulations for hemp could create more certainty for farmers and boost job growth in the state.

YPR: Tester Says New Rules Create More Certainty For Hemp Industry

Montana’s Democratic Senator Jon Tester said in a press call Thursday new federal regulations for hemp could create more certainty for farmers and boost job growth in the state.

By: Rachel Cramer, Yellowstone Public Radio

Montana's Democratic Senator Jon Tester said in a press call Thursday new federal regulations for hemp could create more certainty for farmers and boost job growth in the state.

The USDA regulations are intended to create national standards for hemp production and eliminate legal uncertainty, which will help farmers access loans and crop insurance.

Senator Tester says it's a step in the right direction.

"It's a good start. I think we got to continue to look and listen to the folks who are growing and utilizing it in manufacturing and tweak it as necessary," Tester said.

Some of the new rules in the 161-page draft include licensing requirements for farmers. Others require hemp to be tested in labs registered with the federal Drug Enforcement Agency. Plants with too much THC (i.e. the chemical compound that can get a person high) would be destroyed.

Industrial hemp became legal to grow beyond state research and pilot projects with the 2018 Farm Bill. Since then, the non-psychoactive CBD oil derived from hemp has become part of a multi-billion dollar industry. Montana farmers facing low wheat and pulse crop prices planted around 22,000 acres of hemp last year and almost double that in 2019.

But it's still a bit of a risky business. There aren't any big processors in the state to turn raw, harvested hemp into CBD oil, t-shirts or biofuels. A group of farmers recently filed a lawsuit, alleging out-of-state companies haven't paid them what they're owed.

Tester says this isn't unprecedented for pioneering industries.

"I mean I got into organics 35 years ago. It was the same kind of deal where you had lot of companies that were operating on a shoe-string budget and sometimes [you] didn't get paid. As that industry matured, of course, businesses get more financially secure and that's less of a risk," Tester said.

Tester and Republican Senator Steve Daines have both supported funding and policies to strengthen the hemp industry in Montana.

A 60-day public comment period on the USDA's new regulations will end December 30th. The agency will use this feedback when drafting its final set of rules in two years.

 

Office Contact Information

Senator Tester's Montana staff serves the state from offices in Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Great Falls, Helena, Kalispell, and Missoula. Please bring your concerns with federal agencies, academy nominations, and other situations to one of these Montana offices.

Billings

Judge Jameson Federal Building
2900 4th Ave N, Suite 201
Billings, MT 59101
Phone: (406) 252-0550
Fax: (406) 252-7768

Bozeman

Avant Courier Building
1 E Main Street, Suite 202
Bozeman, MT 59715
Phone: (406) 586-4450
Fax: (406) 586-7647

Butte

Silver Bow Center
125 W Granite, Suite 200
Butte, MT 59701
Phone: (406) 723-3277
Fax: (406) 782-4717

Great Falls

119 1st Avenue N, Suite 102
Great Falls, MT 59401
Phone: (406) 452-9585
Fax: (406) 452-9586

Helena

Capital One Center
208 N Montana Avenue, Suite 202
Helena, MT 59601
Phone: (406) 449-5401
Fax: (406) 449-5462

Kalispell

8 Third Street E
Kalispell, MT 59901
Phone: (406) 257-3360
Fax: (406) 257-3974

Missoula

130 W Front St.
Missoula, MT 59802
Phone: (406) 728-3003
Fax: (406) 728-2193

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