Submitted By Mike Stranz, NFU government relations representative

June 4-10, 2012 is Hemp History Week. Now in its third year, Hemp History Week is the largest national grassroots marketing and public education effort torenew strong support for hemp farming in the U.S. and raise awareness about the benefits of hemp products. Hemp is an untapped opportunity for American farmers and Hemp History Week is the time to make our voices heard in support of bringing hemp back to U.S. farms.

Hemp is a traditional American crop, grown by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. But in 1930’s, misguided federal policy criminalized the cultivation of industrial hemp in the U.S., despite the fact that industrial hemp has no drug value. This outdated policy has created a missed opportunity for American farmers and consumers alike.

Today, millions of consumers know hemp as a healthful source of plant-based protein and Omega 3s and 6s. They are purchasing hemp clothing,using hemp paper, and may even live in an energy efficient home being builtwith hemp. The market for hemp products in 2011 was $419 million, includingenvironmentally sustainable input for products from food and body care to plastics, textiles, building materials and even ethanol.

National Farmers Union is among the organization that supports the normalization of regulations about hemp. The 2012 NFU Policy includes the following language:

“NFU supports… urging the president, attorney general and Congress to direct the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to differentiate between industrial hemp and marijuana and adopt policy to allow American farmers to grow industrial hemp under state law without requiring DEA licenses.”

Hemp is a crop that pays. Industrial hemp has been grown in Canada since 1999. Today, Canadian hemp farmers net an average $200-$400 per acre for hemp grown just north of the U.S. border. U.S. consumers are demanding U.S.-grown hemp, and ideally, hemp is processed within 100 miles of where it is harvested. Hemp farming supports not just farms, but secondary businesses such as processing and manufacturing, creating jobs and building the health of local economies.

During Hemp History Week, our U.S. Senators need to hear from us on behalf of industrial hemp. The campaign is leading a drive to collect 100 letters to Senators in each of the 50 states in support of industrial hemp farming legislation. Visit www.hemphistoryweek.com/takeaction to easily contact your members of Congress about the issue.

There are many compelling reasons for lawmakers to support industrial hemp. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) explains:

“There are several successful businesses in my state who are manufacturing healthy and sustainable products made from hemp. Currently these companies are forced to import their raw materials from Canada and other countries. Changing federal policy to allow American farmers the right to grow hemp right here at home will help these companies thrive,while creating new economic opportunities in Oregon and across the country.”

Support for industrial hemp is building. By hosting events, educating communities, offering promotions, and spreading the word, together these groups are expanding the base of support for industrial hemp. Farmers, along with consumers and marketers, play a key role in this conversation. To learn more and find out how you can get involved visit: www.hemphistoryweek.com

 

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