Thanks to Tester’s Efforts, Montana Farmers Can Now Grow Hemp this Season

Senator successfully pushes USDA and CBP to allow producers to import hemp seeds from Canada in time for planting season

(Big Sandy, Mont.) – After a weeks-long effort, U.S. Senator Jon Tester has successfully pushed the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to allow Montana producers to import hemp seeds from Canada-just in time for spring planting.

“This is a commonsense solution to an avoidable problem,” Tester said. “The clock is ticking and farmers need to purchase these seeds immediately. This is welcome news to the growing number of Montana farmers who plan to grow hemp this season.”

Montana farmers have been growing hemp through a limited pilot program since 2014, because the crop was still considered a controlled substance until late last year. In December, Tester helped pass the 2018 Farm Bill, which removed hemp from the Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) list of controlled substances, making it legal to grow industrial hemp in the U.S.-pending the USDA’s approval.

However, the USDA is refusing to approve any state hemp growing plans until later this year-leaving Montana hemp growers in limbo as planting season begins. Tester called out USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue last week over the agency’s failure to give Montana farmers the green light to plant hemp this growing season. With USDA punting the decision until later this year-and DEA’s removal from regulating industrial hemp-Tester turned to CBP to ensure that farmers have enough time to purchase, clean, and plant hemp seeds this spring.

Tester personally pressed Acting CBP Commissioner John Sanders on April 16 to update guidelines at ports of entry so Montana farmers can continue to purchase hemp seeds from Canada. While these guidelines are still being finalized, CBP has now agreed to allow Montana farmers to transport hemp seeds across the northern border in the coming days.

Tester was the first member of Montana’s Congressional delegation to ask federal agencies to address this issue in a March 12 letter to USDA Secretary Perdue and sent his latest letter on this issue to CBP Acting Commissioner Sanders yesterday.