Tester Grills Agriculture Secretary, Calls for Immediate Approval of Montana’s Hemp Plan

Senator receives personal commitment towards a quick resolution

(U.S. Senate)-U.S. Senator Jon Tester today grilled Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue over the agency’s failure to give the green light to Montana farmers to plant hemp this growing season.

Tester called on Perdue to immediately expedite the state of Montana’s 2019 hemp plan so farmers can buy seeds and prepare for the growing season.

“You have the capacity to adopt these state plans,-do it,” Tester demanded. “Then people in Montana can start raising this stuff, start developing markets for pressing, and develop markets for roughage.”

Perdue made the commitment to look at the Montana state plan and get back to Tester with his findings.

Montanans were able to grow and harvest hemp under a pilot program that Tester secured in the 2014 Farm Bill, but since the 2018 Farm Bill was signed into law earlier this year, the Drug Enforcement Agency has prohibited the sale of hemp seeds until the USDA approves state hemp growing plans.

Tester worked hard to remove hemp from the list of controlled substances in the 2018 Farm Bill, allowing to be grown and sold as a commodity.

Tester also pressed Perdue on the trade uncertainty facing Montana’s top industry.

“Rural America is under attack, we are losing people left and right,” Tester added. “This is a recipe for disaster in rural America, and it is man-made.”

After the President pulled the U.S. out of the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement, Tester urged Perdue to prioritize a bilateral trade agreement with Japan to protect Montana farmers and ranchers’ access to one of the world’s largest wheat markets.

Tester wrote a letter to Secretary Perdue in March asking him to expedite the USDA’s review and approval of Montana’s 2019 growing season hemp plan.