Congresswoman Tracy Plaskett, a member of the House Ways and Means, Budget, and Agriculture Committees, released the following statement after chairing a biotechnology, horticulture, and research (BHR) hearing titled “A review of the USDA hemp production program”.
“The Biotechnology, Horticulture and Research Subcommittee has authority over the hemp industry; as such, today the subcommittee heard from a panel of experts, including growers, researchers, tribal members, and state agricultural directors and commissioners, who provided a review of the USDA hemp production program authorized in the Farm Bill of 2018 (PL 115-334) as well as an update on the current state of domestic hemp production.
“Witnesses shared information about the market complexities that have arisen as a result of the 2018 Farm Bill as well as steps the House Agriculture Committee can take to ensure that states, territories and tribes provide the necessary support to producers. Our witnesses shared that prior to 2018, the federal ban and controlled substance classification of hemp was the biggest impediment to industrial hemp production. Following the 2018 Farm Bill, new issues emerged, including a lack of state regulations and uniform testing processes, as well as clear federal enforcement standards and other hurdles.
“Additionally, the subcommittee has received requests for greater market certainty and stability for farmers, growers and consumers in the hemp industry. We also heard of industry successes, including creating space for market diversification as well as addressing supply chain gaps and limitations, including processing and manufacturing, increasing production capacity and strengthening supply chain linkages.
“In my district, the US Virgin Islands, farmers are keenly interested in the opportunities for economic growth and expansion presented by the hemp industry. As we continue the conversations leading to the 2023 Farm Bill, we must ensure we include the voices of socially disadvantaged farmers, increase their involvement in these important discussions, and drive equity across the industry.
“I look forward to continuing conversations about the hemp industry as well as engaging with the Virgin Islands community on important takeaways from this subcommittee hearing and encouraging stakeholders in the Agriculture to visit https://agriculture.house.gov/forms/form/?ID=9 and provide the House Agriculture Committee with direct feedback on their experiences with Farm Bill programs.