Politics & Government

McConnell inserts hemp provision into Senate farm appropriations bill

Martin Smith, CEO of United Global Co-opportunities, checked out a bale of industrial hemp Tuesday during a Kentucky industrial hemp pilot programs news conference at a G.F. Vaughan warehouse on South Forbes Road. State Agriculture Commissioner James Comer spoke at the event.
Martin Smith, CEO of United Global Co-opportunities, checked out a bale of industrial hemp Tuesday during a Kentucky industrial hemp pilot programs news conference at a G.F. Vaughan warehouse on South Forbes Road. State Agriculture Commissioner James Comer spoke at the event. Herald-Leader

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has inserted into the Senate farm appropriations bill a provision aimed at making it easier to process legally grown industrial hemp. The measure would help farmers transport hemp between states so the crop can be developed for commercial purposes.

"Kentucky's industrial hemp pilot programs continue to prosper, and I want to make sure our legal hemp producers can safely transport their crops between states, including to states that maintain processing facilities, so they can fully capitalize on the commercial potential for this commodity," McConnell, R-Louisville, said in a news release from his Washington office. The provision "re-emphasizes that industrial hemp from a farm bill research program is an agricultural commodity," he said.

State Agriculture Commissioner James Comer said the provision was vital to developing a thriving hemp industry in the state.

"The ability of Kentucky to research the full potential of industrial hemp through processing, marketing and sales is vital to understanding the future possibilities for industrial hemp," Comer said.

McConnell worked last month with Sens. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Jon Tester, D-Mont., to insert language in the Senate Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations bill to ensure that legal industrial hemp pilot programs, such as those in Kentucky, can continue without federal disruption.

The hemp provisions this year build on McConnell's work in last year's farm bill, which gave state agricultural commissioners and universities the federal authority to cultivate industrial hemp for pilot programs.

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