Tester Successfully Cuts Red Tape for Hemp Farmers, Provides Access to Banking Services

Senator’s efforts lead federal regulators to clarify rules for providing financial services to hemp producers

Following his repeated efforts to get federal regulators to cut red tape for hemp farmers, U.S. Senator Jon Tester is announcing that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) will issue a guidance allowing hemp producers to bank at financial institutions.

The announcement comes on the heels of a sustained push by Tester to make the FDIC and FinCEN clarify the legal status of hemp growth and production. In a statement issued today, the organizations did exactly that, emphasizing that banks are no longer required to file suspicious activity reports for customers solely because they grow or cultivate hemp.

“Montana farmers have been growing hemp for the better part of five years, and it’s been an uphill battle to get them access to banks ever since,” said Tester. “This is great news for our hemp producers who will now have access to capital and financial institutions that were previously blocked by unnecessary red tape.”

Earlier this year, Tester successfully pressured the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to publish its long awaited hemp rule that would ease regulations for Montana farmers. In a March 12th letter to USDA Secretary Perdue, Tester was the first member of Montana’s Congressional delegation to ask federal agencies to provide certainty for farmers by implementing the hemp guidance mandated by the 2018 Farm Bill.

Tester has been a champion for Montana hemp producers since they started cultivating the plant as part of a 2014 pilot program. He recently secured nearly $165,000 to research hemp and establish Canadian markets for the crop, and earlier this spring, he successfully pushed Customs and Border Protection to update their hemp guidance to allow Montana producers to purchase hemp seeds from Canada.

Hemp was removed from the list of Schedule I controlled substances a year ago, following the passage of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, which permits producers to grow the crop. In August, the National Credit Union Administration announced that it will provide financial services to legally operating hemp businesses and farmers. The Fiscal Year 2020 Senate Appropriations package that recently passed the Senate provides access to guaranteed loans for hemp producers and encourages hemp research and education.