The crop would also be removed from a federal list of controlled substances
By Diego Flammini
U.S. producers interested in growing hemp could be afforded that opportunity if the latest version of the Farm Bill passes.
The revised Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 includes measures that would see the crop removed from a federal list of controlled substances. Researchers could apply for hemp related grants and producers would also be eligible for crop insurance. The crop could be marketed as an agricultural commodity.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who’s home state of Kentucky allowed hemp to be grown on 12,000 acres, spearheaded the national support for hemp.
“Securing the Hemp Farming Act as part of the 2018 Farm Bill has been a top priority of mine,” he said in a June 8 statement. “As a result of the hemp pilot program, which I secured in the 2014 Farm Bill, Kentucky’s farmers, processors, and manufacturers have begun to show the potential for this versatile crop.”
American farmers are encouraged at the possibility of being on the forefront of a new market opportunity.
Hemp has been illegal to grow in the U.S. since 1970 for its close ties with marijuana. The crop has also been praised for its many uses, including food, fibers and in construction materials.
And including hemp in a crop rotation can increase corn and soybean yields by as many as six bushels per acre, according to the Iowa Hemp Association.
“I want to be able to revolutionize a family farm,” Ethan Vorhes, a grain producer from near Charles City, IA., told the Des Moines Register. “Hemp can help us change part of that (growing) situation in the field.”
The Senate Agriculture Committee is scheduled to markup the Farm Bill on Wednesday.