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Breaking News: New Spending Bill Urges Amendments to USDA IFR

AgHS Leading Hemp Advocacy Efforts With Congress: New Bill Urges Amendments to USDA IFR

This past week, Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley released news of a proposed spending bill supporting agriculture, which included crucial improvements for hemp farming, research, and regulation.  As head Democrat of the Senate Appropriations Committee subcommittee on agriculture, Sen. Merkley is a great ally to the hemp industry in Oregon and nationally.

Key parts of the bill’s sections on hemp target the USDA with the need for a more science-based approach to regulating the crop, along with improved access to guaranteed loans for hemp producers and businesses.  Read the Senator’s press release for more details on the bill’s proposals for hemp.

The emphasis on more science in hemp policy development is welcome for all sectors of the industry.  Upon passage, universities will receive more resources for research and development, resulting in real data driving regulatory policies.  This will help create a solid foundation for better standards and practices as the industry moves forward.

AgHS Chief Legislative Strategist Courtney N. Moran, LL.M. applauded the bill’s features and thanked the Senator for his alliance with our industry.  As co-author of the 2018 Farm Bill with Senators Ron Wyden (D,OR) and Mitch McConnell (R, KY), Courtney has advocated tirelessly for regulations to align with the original legislative intent of the law that legalized hemp across the nation.  At the top of her Campaign platform is the need for a science-based approach to hemp policymaking, so that a solid foundation can be built for the industry.

Senator Merkley’s bill reinforces the need for a science-based approach, and its proposed extension of the 2014 Farm Bill authority until 2022 will give states an easier transition to the 2018 Farm Bill, another of Courtney’s top priorities.  Merkley’s press release quoted her commentary:

“Securing an extension of the 2014 Farm Bill authority until January 202[2] will help farmers and state departments of agriculture transition smoothly to the 2018 Farm Bill and USDA program rules, saving farmers from an abrupt change in regulation mid-production season.

Additionally, allocating much-needed funding to USDA for implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill and targeted research and development efforts to integrate hemp into traditional agricultural systems will further establish hemp as a true agricultural commodity.”

~ Courtney N. Moran, LL.M.

The bill included the following improvements for hemp, which will reverberate nationwide for the crop:

• Extends the 2014 hemp pilot program until 2022, providing farmers clear operating guidelines as the USDA smooths out regulatory challenges (Sec 768); • Encourages the USDA to study the usage and impact of energy and water in hemp cultivation and to make recommendations on best practices and standards; • Directs the agency to establish and maintain a hemp germplasm repository for hemp breeding purposes; • Provides funding for the agency to conduct regionally-driven research, development, and stakeholder engagement to improve understanding of how to effectively integrate hemp into existing agricultural cropping, processing, and marketing systems; and • Directs the USDA to work with institutions under its jurisdiction to provide access to guaranteed loans for hemp producers and businesses.

All these great developments signal auspicious timing for the launching of the AgHS “Crossroads Campaign”, aiming to align federal legislation and USDA rulemaking with the domestic hemp industry.  To add your input and influence to the process as we prepare for the 117th Congress starting January 3, join the Campaign today.  Email to receive our full Campaign Proposal and Tiers of Engagement.

We look forward to welcoming you onboard this collective effort to help hemp cross the final crossroads from contraband to commodity!

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