In Fort Benton, Tester Joins Local Officials, Producers at Hemp Processing Facility Groundbreaking

Senator: I look forward to watching this business continue to grow and expand and be all that it can be.”

U.S. Senator Jon Tester today joined local officials and producers to break ground on a new hemp processing facility in Fort Benton, Mont. and pledged to continue fighting to ensure hemp farmers have the federal support and legal protections they need to continue growing the industry.

The ceremony marked the start of construction on new hemp fiber decortication facility, a project that eventually hopes to bring more than 20 full-time jobs to Fort Benton. Tester in July wrote a letter of support urging grant funding for the industrial park where the facility is located.

“We’re seeing hemp production in this state skyrocket,” Tester said. “It’s not only a big deal for Fort Benton, and Chouteau County, and Northcentral Montana, but it’s a big deal for the entire state. I’ll keep fighting to make sure our hemp producers have the regulatory support they need, and I look forward to watching this business continue to grow and expand and be all that it can be.”

Tester toured the location for the new facility along with IndHemp leaders Ben Brimlow and Morgan Elliott, and Fort Benton mayor Rick Morris. Tester also gave remarks on the future of hemp farming in Montana, and his ongoing work to promote the industry and cut red tape for hemp farmers.

A longtime champion of hemp production, 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, he 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, and he secured guidance 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.

Following Tester’s efforts, hemp was removed from the list of Schedule I controlled substances after 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.