Vermont hemp farming bill becomes law
MONTPELIER, Vt. -- Vote Hemp, a grassroots advocacy organization working to give farmers the right to grow non-drug industrial hemp, is extremely pleased that the Vermont Secretary of State's office accepted Formal Opinion #2008-1 from the Office...
MONTPELIER, Vt. -- Vote Hemp, a grassroots advocacy organization working to give farmers the right to grow non-drug industrial hemp, is extremely pleased that the Vermont Secretary of State's office accepted Formal Opinion #2008-1 from the Office of the Attorney General and gave H.267, the Hemp for Vermont bill, the designation of Act No. 212 last Fri-day. There had been a constitutional controversy as Governor Jim Douglas forwarded H.267 to the Secretary of State intending it to become law without his signature. The bill had over-whelmingly passed both the House (127 to 9) and the Senate (25 to 1). The new law sets up a state-regulated program for farmers to grow non-drug industrial hemp which is used in a wide variety of products, including nutritious foods, cosmetics, body care, clothing, tree-free paper, auto parts, building materials and much more. Learn more about industrial hemp at: www.VoteHemp.com .
Smart and effective grassroots organizing by Vote Hemp and the Vermont-based advocacy group Rural Vermont ( www.RuralVermont.org ) mobilized farmers and local businesses, many of which pledged to buy their hemp raw materials in-state if they have the opportunity. Rural Vermont's Director Amy Shollenberger says that "the Hemp for Vermont bill is an-other 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."
Vermont grows an average of 90,000 acres of corn per year, a small amount compared to Midwest states; however, the need for a good rotation crop exists nationwide. From candle makers to dairymen to retailers, Vermont voters strongly support hemp farming. Admittedly a niche market now, hemp is becoming more common in stores and products across the country every day. Over the past ten years, farmers in Canada have grown an average of 16,500 acres of hemp per year, primarily for use in food products. In Vermont, the interest in hemp includes for use in food products, as well as in quality and affordable animal bedding for the state's estimated 140,000 cows.
"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," comments Eric Steenstra, President of Vote Hemp. "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," adds Steenstra.
Rural Vermont's Shollenberger states that "the Vermont law is significant for two reasons. First, no other state until now has followed North Dakota's lead by creating real-world regu-lations 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 Agri-culture -- both relevant committees that could consider legislation. We also have a friend at the USDA in new Secretary Ed Schafer 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."