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National Hemp Association Asks Congress To Budget $1 Billion To Support Industry Innovation

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A national hemp trade organization is asking U.S. House of Representatives leadership to attach $1 billion in funding to budget reconciliation legislation to support industry innovation and research on the crop.

The National Hemp Association (NHA), which says it represents 90 percent of state hemp permit holders across the U.S., recently wrote a letter to top lawmakers with a proposed amendment that is meant to boost the industry as it works to find its footing after the plant was legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill.

The money, if allocated, will allow federal officials “to empower hemp farmers, processors, and related businesses to compete globally, sequester unprecedented amounts of carbon, remediate contaminated soil and water, provide funding and jobs to traditionally disadvantaged members of the farming community, and much more,” the organization wrote to lawmakers.

“History confirms that the world looks to America to lead change, be it industrial, cultural or environmental,” Geoff Whaling, chair of NHA, said in a press release. “This is more true today than ever before, as we look to combat the global climate crisis affecting humankind.”

“We know American ingenuity will drive many of these solutions and can do so with plant-based technologies,” he added. “Hemp, America’s newest commodity crop, will be at the forefront of this regenerative economic and social shift; helping create jobs, clean our soil and air, and introduce sustainable new products once only dreamed about.”

Here are the main components of the proposed $1 billion hemp request: 

-$100 million each for four “regional super sites” of hemp production in Oregon, Michigan, New York and Florida.

-$120 million for farms qualifying as “historically underserved.”

-$380 million “divided according to hemp farm acreage calculations.” Ten percent of that would be distributed to states, tribes and territories for “education, enforcement, and regulation of the hemp industry.” Funds would also go to grants to hemp companies of up to $3 million each to help them purchase equipment “that allows a farmer to harvest or cultivate a hemp plant, a manufacturer to extract, decort, degum, flavor, can, pack, mold, press and/or any other machinery that uses the hemp plant or any derivatives of the hemp plant to create a product or work in progress.”

“As you consider the budget reconciliation for our nation, we sincerely ask that you consider hemp,” the association and officials from other state and national hemp groups wrote in the letter to lawmakers. “Our industry is nascent but can achieve the greatness of other agricultural crops, and perhaps more still, given parallel levels of support to create infrastructure and develop markets. With adequate, specifically applied resources farmers shall possess a level playing field to move the hemp industry to the next level.”

Whether leadership is amenable to accepting the proposed request is yet to be seen. But the burgeoning hemp industry has continued to receive bipartisan support in Congress.

And while The U.S. Department of Agricultures’s (USDA) final rule for hemp took effect on March 22, the agency is evidently still interested in gathering information to further inform its regulatory approach going forward. For example, the agency announced last month that it is moving forward with a large-scale survey to gain insight into the hemp market.

USDA has also continued to approve state regulatory plans for the crop. Recently, the agency accepted a hemp plan submitted by Colorado, where officials have consistently insisted that the state intends to be a leader in the space.

Meanwhile, representatives of the USDA under President Joe Biden’s administration held their first meeting with hemp industry stakeholders in January to learn about the market’s needs.

The talk “went extremely well,” National Industrial Hemp Council board chair Patrick Atagi, who was appointed by USDA and the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) in February to serve on a federal trade advisory committee, told Marijuana Moment at the time.

Read the NHA letter to congressional leaders on the proposed hemp funding amendment below: 

NHA Hemp Letter by Marijuana Moment

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Photo courtesy of Brendan Cleak.

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