Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Joe Courtney (2nd District of Connecticut)
NORWICH, CT – Today, Rep. Joe Courtney (CT-02) joined Governor Ned Lamont in Suffield to participate in the signing ceremony in for the Connecticut State Legislature’s House Bill 7003, An Act Revising the State Hemp Program in Accordance with Federal Requirements. The bill makes conforming changes to Connecticut’s industrial hemp program, currently administered by the CT Department of Agriculture, to align it with federal requirements. House Bill 7003 was necessary to facilitate the ongoing growth of Connecticut’s industrial hemp industry, which Courtney has fought hard to support at the federal level for years. Rep. Courtney and Governor Lamont were also joined by Connecticut Agricultural Commissioner Bryan Hurlburt and elected members of the Connecticut State Legislature for the signing ceremony, which took place at Lasa Extract in Suffield, CT.
“The bipartisan budget we passed last month gave states like Connecticut more time to revise and approve their industrial hemp production pilot programs, and today’s bill signing means that we’re moving ahead on schedule,” said Rep. Courtney. “Industrial hemp production is a tremendous opportunity for eastern Connecticut farming families, and I’ve been working across the aisle in Congress and closely with stakeholders here at home to help our farmers who ventured into the hemp industry get the tools and opportunities they need to start producing this cash crop on a much larger scale. We’ve got skilled farmers on the ground who are ready to get to work, and we’ve found bipartisan success in supporting them so far—from the 2018 Farm Bill that legalized industrial hemp, to this year’s bipartisan measure to give states more time to submit their hemp production pilot programs to USDA for review, giving farmers more certainty headed into the new growing season.
“I want to commend Governor Lamont and our Connecticut State Legislature for working hard amid COVID-19 to get this important effort across the finish line, as well as Connecticut Agriculture Commissioner Bryan Hurlburt for all his efforts on behalf of our state’s agricultural. I’ll continue to work at the federal level to ensure that our farmers are given every chance to continue taking advantage of this opportunity.”
Courtney has worked for years to greenlight the production and sale of hemp in Connecticut. In December 2018, Courtney voted to pass the 2018 Farm Bill that opened the door at the federal level for the growing of industrial hemp. In 2019, Courtney was joined by Reps. Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) and John Larson (CT-01) in writing to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue to request clarification on industrial hemp regulation and cultivation in the state of Connecticut, and to seek guidance on a path forward for Connecticut farmers to begin the cultivation of industrial hemp in the 2019 growing season. Earlier this year, in January, Courtney and Commissioner Bryan Hurlburt led the entire Connecticut Congressional Delegation in pressing Secretary Perdue to make changes to the Department’s interim hemp production rule so that the hemp production program is less restrictive for Connecticut farmers.
Most recently, Courtney voted to pass legislation giving states like Connecticut more time to finalize their hemp production pilot program proposals for review by USDA amid COVID-19. In September, Courtney helped pass H.R. 8337, the Continuing Appropriations Act (CR) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021, which would fund the federal government through December 11, 2020, avoiding an impending October 1st government shutdown. The short-term funding bill extended the deadline for states to submit hemp production pilot programs for review and approval by USDA to September 30, 2021, giving states more time to implement hemp production programs that farmers can count on in the coming harvest season.