WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate approved funding that will extend the hemp pilot program through September 2021. The funding was part of a continuing resolution approved to prevent a government shutdown. President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed the stopgap spending bill into law.
“We’re thankful for both the House and the Senate for listening to us back in August when we wrote about the importance of this program,” said National Industrial Hemp Council Board Chairman Patrick Atagi. “With the Senate’s vote today, hemp farmers across the country will have more certainty tomorrow while states continue their important work to submit final plans to the USDA for approval.”
Federally-legal hemp farming began in 2014 after the Farm Bill was enacted. The 2014 legislation created a hemp pilot program in states with plans approved by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). In 2018, another Farm Bill was passed and removed hemp from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Controlled Substance Act. With the pilot program set to expire, states had until October 31, 2020, to submit their final plans for USDA approval. Due to complications and delays related to COVID-19, some states have been struggling to meet that deadline.
Hemp has a long history of industrial use and also is a primary source for CBD extraction. Many farmers view hemp as a potential new cash crop with the ability to help ease the increasing struggles faced by the American agriculture industry. Hemp, for the most part, is largely supported by a wide range of Americans.
“Hemp is a bipartisan issue and that’s why Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) both expressed an interest in extending this program,” added Atagi.