Tester, Braun Introduce Bill to Cut Red Tape, Support Industrial Hemp Producers
Senators’ bill would reduce the burden on farmers growing grain and fiber hemp
U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) today introduced their bipartisan Industrial Hemp Act to ease the burden on farmers who grow grain and fiber hemp, or “industrial hemp.” The Senators’ bill would exempt farmers exclusively growing industrial hemp from the burdensome background checks and costly sampling and testing protocols required for farmers growing cannabinoid hemp.
“Montana farmers don’t need government bureaucrats putting unnecessary burdens on their operations,” said Senator Tester. “It’s time we cut red tape, and make it easier for industrial hemp farmers to get their product to market. My bipartisan bill builds on Montana’s leadership on hemp policy and creates good-paying jobs for folks across rural America.”
“It’s important that we set American farmers up for success by cutting burdensome regulations and red tape,” said Senator Braun. “This legislation will expand opportunities for industrial hemp producers in Indiana and across the country and allow them to tap into one of the fastest growing agricultural markets.”
“Montana has been a leader in hemp production and for many farmers, this crop gives us more crop rotation options,” said Cyndi Johnson, President of Montana Farm Bureau Federation.“We appreciate Senator Tester’s efforts to distinguish between different varieties and update the law to regulate their production more appropriately, giving farmers more certainty in their cropping decisions.”
“The Midwest Hemp Council applauds Senator Braun’s and Senator Tester’s unwavering commitment to helping American farmers rebuild a domestic supply chain of hemp grain and fiber crops. The Industrial Hemp Act of 2023 will reduce unnecessary regulatory barriers for our farmers and provide them with the certainty needed to continue to invest their time and treasure into meeting the growing demand for hemp grain and fiber crops across the country. It’s time to unleash the ingenuity of the American farmer,” said Justin Swanson, President of the Midwest Hemp Council.
“It’s just common sense that farmers should be able to grow hemp for grain and fiber without having to wade through a bunch of regulatory red tape,” said Walter Schweitzer, President of the Montana Farmers Union. “This is a good step in that direction, and I thank Senators Tester and Braun for their leadership on this issue.”
“When the 2018 Farm Bill took the ‘industrial’ out of the industrial hemp definition, we lost an important distinction between very different crops,” said Morgan Tweet, Founder and COO of IND Hemp in Fort Benton, MT.
While the end-use products that result from industrial hemp production have always been exempt from the Controlled Substances Act, under current U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) rules, all hemp crops are subject to a compliance test. Under the Industrial Hemp Act, industrial hemp farms would still be subject to review to ensure that farmers are meeting strict compliance standards, but would not be required to undergo background checks and testing protocols if their crops are deemed compliant. Producers who violate these rules would be barred from participating in the hemp program for five years.
Senators Tester and Braun have led the charge to defend and expand opportunities for American family farms. Just this week, the Senators joined their colleagues Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) in introducing the Protecting America’s Agricultural Land from Foreign Harm Act to prohibit America’s foreign adversaries including Iran, North Korea, China and Russia from purchasing or leasing U.S. farmland. Their bill would also prohibits their participation in the USDA agricultural programs for farmers. These restrictions do not include United States citizens or lawfully admitted permanent residents.