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McConnell and Quarles Host USDA Officials at Hemp Event
Kentucky Ag Connection - 04/15/2019

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles hosted a hemp forum last week at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville. McConnell and Quarles invited U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach and Risk Management Agency (RMA) Administrator Martin Barbre to update and hear directly from Kentucky hemp farmers, processors and manufacturers regarding the implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill provisions that legalized the production of hemp.

USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue participated via video.

"Hemp has a remarkable history in the Bluegrass State. From Henry Clay's fields at the Ashland Estate to helping the Greatest Generation in the Second World War, Kentucky has been at the forefront of hemp production in this country," McConnell said. "I'd like to thank Undersecretary Ibach and Administrator Barbre for coming to Kentucky to hear directly from farmers and producers as the USDA works to implement the hemp program I authored and secured in the 2018 Farm Bill. Forums like this allow hemp growers, processors and interested parties to engage with federal agencies as they move forward with guidance that pave the way for the full realization of hemp's potential in an open marketplace. I appreciate the leadership and partnership of Commissioner Quarles and U.S. Representative James Comer (R-KY) to help Kentucky farmers and workers benefit from this exciting commodity."

"What an honor it is for Kentucky to host U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary Greg Ibach and Risk Management Agency Administrator Martin Barbre for a forum with Kentucky's hemp community," Quarles said. "The fact that USDA selected Kentucky as its first stop to learn about hemp underscores that the Commonwealth is a national leader for this industry. I am incredibly grateful to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for championing the legalization of hemp nationwide in 2018 and for his willingness to keep up the fight for our hemp community as we transition to the widespread commercialization of hemp. I will continue to work with him and our partners at USDA to secure a national regulatory framework that will give all levels of the hemp supply chain the certainty they need to succeed and prosper."

In December, McConnell joined President Trump at the White House as he signed into law the 2018 Farm Bill, which included the Senator's initiative to legalize hemp as an agricultural commodity by removing it from the federal list of controlled substances. Last week, Senator McConnell sent letters to several federal financial regulators encouraging them to help hemp farmers and producers explore the full economic opportunity of hemp.

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