Kentucky, Montana senators get impatient with outdated hemp rules

U.S. senators from two big hemp states are getting fed up with waiting for hemp rules on issues such as shipping hemp across states lines to get fixed, so they’re pushing federal regulators to move faster.

During a forum in Kentucky on Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said a new hemp law may be required to fix problems businesses face with shipments being seized and a continued lack of access to financial services and crop insurance.

“We’re in the red zone, but there are some glitches,” McConnell said at the state-sponsored forum, according to the (Louisville) Courier Journal.

“Some of it may require legislation. If it does, I’ll be there to do it.”

Last week, McConnell and Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon sent letters to four federal financial institutions, urging them to open access to services to hemp farmers and businesses.

The U.S. Farm Credit Administration is expected to provide guidelines for lenders as early as this week.

Also this week, Montana senators urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in a letter to move faster on developing the new rules governing hemp.

Though the USDA told the Montana Department of Agriculture that federal rules won’t be ready until this fall, farmers need clear guidelines, Sen. Steve Daines said, according to the Helena Independent Record.

“Without USDA regulations, Montana farmers will face substantial uncertainty,” Daines told USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue.

The USDA said in February it will not review state hemp plans until the federal rules are ready for the 2020 season. Montana submitted its plan in February.

Sen. Jon Tester of Montana said farmers are suffering because of trade wars and tariffs, and producers can’t wait any longer for the new hemp rules.

“I understand that creating new commodity regulations is a lengthy process and must be done thoughtfully and carefully,” Tester wrote in a March letter to Perdue.

“However, if USDA needs one year to create national hemp rules, then I believe the agency is obligated to review and approve state and tribal plans in the interim.”