U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) joined his colleagues on the U.S. Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee today to vote in favor of the Farm Bill. During the committee meeting, Senator McConnell discussed his legislation to legalize industrial hemp and the importance of including his Hemp Farming Act of 2018 in the Farm Bill. Senator McConnell’s provision removes federal roadblocks to industrial hemp and gives Kentucky the opportunity to once again be at the forefront of hemp production.
Senator McConnell made the following comment after today’s Agriculture Committee vote to approve the Farm Bill:
“Supporting Kentucky’s agriculture communities, this legislation will provide certainty to thousands of farm families while also protecting important tools like crop insurance. After today’s important vote, Kentucky farmers are one step closer to having the opportunity to tap into the growing hemp market. By securing my hemp provision in the Farm Bill, we are building upon the successes of the hemp pilot programs and encouraging the great potential of this versatile crop. I would like to thank Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts for his work on this victory for our farmers, processors, and manufacturers. I look forward to considering this legislation on the Senate floor so we can continue to see new products with Kentucky-grown hemp in our state and throughout the nation.”
With the Committee’s approval of the Farm Bill, Senator McConnell announced the legislation will go before the full Senate for consideration before July 4th.
Earlier today, the Senator spoke on the Senate floor (full floor remarks HERE) regarding the Farm Bill and his Hemp Farming Act. The following are his comments as prepared for delivery for today’s Senate Agriculture Committee meeting:
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Ranking Member Stabenow, for your leadership to get us to this point. Because of your commitment to a fair and bipartisan process, we have the opportunity to pass a landmark farm bill that will benefit communities throughout the country.
“In my home state of Kentucky, our agricultural heritage is a central part of our economy and our pride. From poultry and beef to soybeans, corn, and tobacco the 75,000-plus farms in the Bluegrass provide jobs and a great way of life for so many Kentuckians.
“I am proud to support this farm bill before us today because it can deliver much-needed certainty for farmers. One way it does so is by protecting crop insurance – a crucial tool for our farmers who face challenges such as natural disasters or inclement weather that could wipe out an entire operation. This legislation also provides important reforms to support Kentucky’s 12 million acres of forestland and their contributions to our state’s economy. And it bolsters rural communities by expanding access to high-speed internet, combating the opioid crisis, and investing in water infrastructure projects. By any measure, this is a good bill with commonsense proposals to help farm families and communities.
“I’d also like to thank the Chairman and the Ranking Member for working with me to include my Hemp Farming Act in the bill. Building on the success from the pilot program I championed in the 2014 farm bill, the Hemp Farming Act will remove federal roadblocks to industrial hemp.
“This bill is a top priority of mine and will benefit farmers and manufacturers in four main ways. First, it legalizes hemp as an agricultural commodity. Second, it empowers states to be the primary regulators of hemp, if they can develop a proper, robust plan. Third, it encourages hemp research through USDA competitive federal grants. And finally, it enables hemp farmers to apply for crop insurance, giving them access to a steady business model.
“Store shelves are filled with products made with hemp imported from other countries. This legislation will give American farmers the opportunity to tap into this growing market.
“Over the last several days, I have received suggestions from various quarters about how to improve my legislation. I have incorporated many of these suggestions, and I can speak more specifically to them, if necessary. The result, in my view, is an even better piece of legislation that I hope all my colleagues can support.
“Thank you once again, Mr. Chairman and Ranking Member Stabenow, for your work to write this farm bill.
“I am proud to support it on behalf of all Kentucky farmers, and I look forward to voting for it.”