Banks Must ‘treat hemp producers like the legal businesses they are,’ Following Tester Push

FinCEN’s expanded guidance evens the playing field for Montana hemp producers

After months of efforts to expand banking services for Montana hemp producers, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today announced that the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has updated its guidance to expand financial services available for hemp businesses.

“Montana hemp farmers have been subject to unfair bureaucratic red tape that has prevented them from accessing the financial services they need to thrive,” said Tester. “I’m glad FinCEN did the right thing for Montanans and will finally allow banks and credit unions to treat hemp producers like the legal businesses they are.”

FinCEN’s expanded guidance comes after a sustained push by Senator Tester to even the playing field for Montana hemp farmers. Tester previously secured guidance from clarifying the legal status of hemp growth and production so that banks are no longer required to file suspicious activity reports for customers solely because they grow or cultivate the plant.

Last 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 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.

Hemp was removed from the list of Schedule I controlled substances following the passage of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, which permits producers to grow the crop. Last August, the National Credit Union Administration announced that it would provide financial services to legally operating hemp businesses and farmers. Last year’s Appropriations package provided access to guaranteed loans for hemp producers and encourages hemp research and education.