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Farm Bureau Supports Legalizing Industrial Hemp

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NAIHC.org, January 23, 2014 –The powerful American Farm Bureau Federation has joined the effort to legalize industrial hemp.

At its annual meeting in Texas, the national farmer organization voted to oppose the federal government’s “classification of industrial hemp as a controlled substance.” Under current federal law, industrial hemp remains banned because non-drug industrial hemp is related to marijuana. The Farm Burea vote was to adopt as national policy a resolution proposed by the Indiana Farm Bureau to legalize industrial hemp as a crop.

Indiana Farm Bureau Policy Advisor Kyle Cline explained that legalizing industrial hemp is important “because of the opportunity that it provides some farmers to diversify their operations and share in a new market opportunity. At a time when small farms are innovating and diversifying to remain competitive, we should provide every opportunity to increase farm incomes and allow the next generation the ability to continue living off the land as their families have for generations.”

Cline said “Industrial hemp is one such opportunity that may work for some farmers in certain regions. Furthermore, industrial hemp will allow the U.S. farmer to share in income that is currently going overseas. Right now, it is legal to import hemp but illegal to produce it. Therefore, there is no opportunity currently to share in the profit.”

Vote Hemp President Eric Steenstra commented that Farm Bureau’s vote “on removing hemp from the Controlled Substances Act demonstrates a positive shift at the grassroots level. It shows that farmers all over the U.S. see industrial hemp for what it is – a versatile, low-input crop. Farmers see hemp imported from China, Canada, and realize that they’re missing out on the growing U.S. market for hemp. That farmers are coming forward with formal support for policy change in favor of hemp legalization is a huge step forward and Congress should follow their lead and pass legislation to once again allow hemp farming under federal law.”

Farm Bureau’s support for industrial hemp follows support pledged earlier by other farm organizations.

In its latest policy document issued last fall, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture stated that:

“NASDA supports revisions to the federal rules and regulations authorizing commercial production of industrial hemp.”

“NASDA urges the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to collaboratively develop and adopt an official definition of industrial hemp that comports with definitions currently used by countries producing hemp.  NASDA also urges Congress to statutorily distinguish between industrial hemp and marijuana and to direct the DEA to revise its policies to allow USDA to establish a regulatory program that allows the development of domestic industrial hemp production by American farmers and manufacturers.”

In 2009, National Grange voted to support hemp, stating that it “supports research, production, processing and marketing of industrial hemp as a viable agricultural activity.”

National Farmers Union passed their first pro-hemp resolution at their 2010 convention. The policy was updated at their 2013 convention and states that the NFU supports:

“Urging the president, attorney general and Congress to direct the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to reclassify industrial hemp as a non-controlled substance and adopt policy to allow American farmers to grow industrial hemp under state law without affecting eligibility for USDA benefits.”

The Illinois Farm Bureau is another supporter, stating as policy that:

“We encourage research of market potential for the production and processing of industrial hemp. We will aggressively pursue actions necessary to allow research on the production of industrial hemp and require the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to issue permits to U.S. farmers allowing  the production of this crop.”