Two Senators from Oregon, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, along with Representatives Peter DeFazio, Kurt Schrader, Earl Blumenauer and Suzanne Bonamici have recently crafted a letter to the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) and Oregon State University (OSU). The Letter was asking for a pilot project for industrial hemp as next year’s growing season approaches. A year ago, a Farm Bill was released that allowed states and universities to grow hemp for research and determining whether or not the United States could benefit from the crop. Now, American farmers still cannot grow hemp due to federal laws.

In order to be able to grow hemp, farmers “must register with state agricultural departments and partner with universities to conduct the research.” Lawmakers wrote a letter imploring ODA, as well as OSA, to progress and try to include Oregon’s hemp pilot program in the 2016 growing season.

“The potential for industrial hemp production represents a great opportunity for Oregon agriculture,” lawmakers wrote. “Many Oregon farmers have expressed interest in participating in this pilot program and some have already obtained permits to grow hemp from the Oregon Department of Agriculture.”

The United States consume more products based on hemp than any other country; industrial hemp is an approximate $620 million industry in the United States. Because of hemp’s ban, all consumed hemp comes internationally which forces certain companies to pay more to import the crop.

“Without ODA’s active participation in the pilot program and the cooperation of OSU, Oregon farmers could lose out on the chance to make Oregon a leader in the hemp industry,” lawmakers also wrote.

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