Senate Passes Bipartisan Provisions by Wyden to Legalize Hemp Farming, Aid Hop Growers and Provide Drought Relief to Western Farmers in Broad Senate Farm Bill

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., announced the Senate today passed several measures he fought to include in the Senate Farm Bill, including the bipartisan Hemp Farming Act, as well as several provisions to help hop growers and provide drought relief to Oregon farmers.

“Oregon does a lot of things well. What we do best is grow things, whether it’s berries in the Willamette Valley, potatoes in Klamath Falls or watermelons in Hermiston,”Wyden said. “I fought to ensure this bill helps Oregon farmers grow things, add value to them, and ship them all around the world, because the world loves Oregon ag.”

The bipartisan Hemp Farming Act defines hemp as an agricultural commodity and removes it from the list of controlled substances. Wyden and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., worked to include the hemp bill in the Senate Farm Bill. Wyden, McConnell, and Sens. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Rand Paul, R-Ky., introduced the bill earlier this year.

“Legalizing hemp nationwide ends decades of bad policymaking and opens up untold economic opportunity for farmers in Oregon and across the country,” Wyden said. “Our bipartisan legislation will spur economic growth in rural communities by creating much-needed red, white, and blue jobs that pay well. I’m proud to have worked with my colleagues to get the bipartisan Hemp Farming Act through the Senate. Today marks a long-overdue, huge step forward for American-grown hemp.”

The Hemp Farming Act gives states the chance to become the main regulators of hemp production, allows hemp researchers to apply for competitive federal grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and makes hemp farmers eligible to apply for crop insurance.

The bill builds on past successful bipartisan efforts by Wyden, who in 2014 helped legalize hemp pilot programs.

The Hemp Farming Act has the support of the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Farmers Union, Vote Hemp, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) and the National Conference of State Legislatures (NSCL).

 

For Hop Growers

Wyden included an amendment to allow the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to fight the two costliest diseases that affect hop plants. It was cosponsored by Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Cory Gardner, R-Colo., and supported by the Brewers Association.

 

Soil Health

Wyden also secured a provision in the Senate Farm Bill to establish a pilot project for farmers across the country to implement advanced farming practices to capture carbon in soil. These farming practices have been shown to improve soil health and crop resilience while lowering the amount of carbon in the atmosphere.

The soil health amendment is supported by the American Coalition for Ethanol, Environmental Entrepreneurs, the National Corn Growers Association and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

 

Drought Assistance

Wyden and other western senators introduced an amendment to ensure long-standing Farm Bill programs will be easily accessible to states, counties and communities to combat drought. The amendment streamlines USDA’s ability to get funding from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQUIP) on the ground to help western farmers with water conservation projects.

  

Energy Efficient Farms

Wyden included a bipartisan amendment he sponsored with Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., to improve the energy efficiency of farms. The amendment would provide allow federal funding from the Rural Energy Assistance Program (REAP) to be used to buy energy efficient farm equipment, which will help farmers reduce their operating costs. It will also encourage the expansion of energy and water efficient vertical farming. 

 

Collaborative Forest Restoration

Wyden and Merkley included a provision in the Senate Farm Bill to increase funding for the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP) to empower rural communities across Oregon to restore effective forest management and improve forest health.

 

Fencing Assistance

Wyden and Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, sponsored a bipartisan amendment to provide farmers with up-front federal funding through conservation programs for fence repairs. The amendment was included in the broader Senate Farm Bill that passed.


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