Montana Hemp Farmers Can Now Purchase Seeds in Time for Growing Season After Tester Push
April 24, 2019 | View PDF
(Big Sandy, Mont.)—U.S. Senator Jon Tester delivered good news to Montana hemp farmers, *“There is no more red tape keeping farmers from growing hemp in Montana.”
Tester successfully forced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to issue new guidance and allow Montana producers to purchase their hemp seeds from Canada. Prior to Tester’s push, farmers weren’t allowed to purchase hemp seeds as a result of USDA’s inaction to approve the State of Montana’s updated hemp growing plans.
*“This welcome news will ensure producers can purchase and clean their seeds in time to get them in the ground this spring,” Tester said. “The squeaky wheel gets the grease, and our Montana farmers made their voices heard before we suffered from a lost growing season.”
Earlier Tester received assurances from U.S. Customs and Border Protection that Montana farmers will be able to import hemp seeds through the northern border—putting an end to the uncertainty that clouded many farmers who are using hemp as a rotational crop.
Montana farmers have been growing hemp through a limited pilot program since 2014, because the crop was still considered a controlled substance until late last year. In December, Tester helped pass the 2018 Farm Bill, which removed hemp from the Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) list of controlled substances, making it legal to grow industrial hemp in the U.S.-pending the USDA’s approval.
However, the USDA has refused to approve any state hemp growing plans until later this year—which left Montana hemp growers in limbo as planting season begins. Tester called out USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue last week over the agency’s failure to give Montana farmers the green light to plant hemp this growing season. With USDA punting the decision until later this year—and DEA’s removal from regulating industrial hemp—Tester turned to CBP to ensure that farmers have enough time to purchase, clean, and plant hemp seeds this spring.
Tester was the first member of Montana’s Congressional delegation to ask federal agencies to address this issue in a March 12 letter to USDA Secretary Perdue and sent his latest letter on this issue to CBP Acting Commissioner Sanders earlier this week.