State Joins North Dakota in Seeking Permission from Feds to Grow Hemp
The Hemp for Vermont Bill was allowed to become law by Governor Jim Hughes on May 29th, without his signature. The bill overwhelmingly passed both the House and Senate several months ago, setting the stage for Vermont’s entrance into the industrial hemp arena.The non-profit advocacy organization Vote Hemp made the announcement, saying the new law regulates growth of industrial hemp by Vermont farmers. The interest in Vermont is for using hemp in food products and bedding for some of the state’s 140,000 cows.
Rural Vermont’s Director Amy Shollenberger is quoted as saying,
“The Hemp for Vermont bill is another step toward legalizing this important crop for farmers. The United States is the only industrialized nation in the world that doesn’t allow this crop to be grown. Looking at the Canadian experience, hemp provides a good return for the farmer. It’s a high-yield crop and a great crop to mix in with corn.”
Shollenberger went on to say:
“The Vermont law is significant for two reasons. First, no other state until now has followed North Dakota’s lead by creating real-world regulations for farmers to grow industrial hemp. Second, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont is Chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary, as well as a member of the Committee on Agriculture – relevant committees that could consider legislation. We also have a friend at the USDA in new Secretary Ed Schaffer who signed North Dakota’s hemp bill as Governor. I plan to visit Washington, DC and try to figure out what Congress and the Administration intend to do.”
Vermont is not a large producer of corn, growing an average of 90,000 acres of corn each year. Hemp, according to the article, would provide an excellent rotation crop.
The next step is to convince the federal government to leave farmers in Vermont alone and allow the production of industrial hemp.
Eric Steenstra, President of Vote Hemp, says:
“Vermont’s federal delegation can now take this law to the U.S. Congress and call for a fix to this problem of farmers missing out on a very useful and profitable crop. North Dakota farmers who want to grow hemp per state law are currently appealing their lawsuit in the federal courts. The real question is whether these hemp-friendly state congressional delegations feel compelled to act.”
A resolution is currently sitting in a congressional committee, awaiting action this year. HR 1009, the “Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2007.” Should it die in committee, a similar measure would have to be introduced once again in the new session of Congress when it convenes next year.
If the court rules in favor of North Dakota farmers, can Vermont be far behind? And what about California, whose governor vetoed a bill that would have allowed farmers in four counties to grow industrial hemp?