Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, D-OR, announced that he secured several critical measures in the 2018 Farm Bill, including provisions to legalize industrial hemp, help hop growers and provide drought relief to Oregon farmers. The Farm Bill was passed by the full Senate today and now advances U.S. House of Representatives for consideration.
“Rural Oregon communities can grow stronger with this bill’s big wins for hemp, hops and innovative opportunities in timber and agriculture,” Wyden said. “I am gratified that the fight for legislation that provides so many seeds for job growth has emerged with this bill helping Oregonians throughout our state.”
Wyden and Sen. Jeff Merkley worked with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to ensure the bipartisan Hemp Farming Act of 2018 was included in the final Farm Bill. The Hemp Farming Act clearly defines hemp as an agricultural commodity and removes it from the list of controlled substances. It also gives states the opportunity to become the primary regulators of hemp production, allows hemp researchers to apply for competitive federal grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and makes hemp farmers eligible to apply for crop insurance. Wyden, Merkley, McConnell, and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.,introduced the bill earlier this year.
For Hop Growers
Wyden secured a provision to allow the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to fight the two costliest diseases that affect hop plants, ensuring that Oregon State University can continue its work to address these threats. The provision was cosponsored by Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Cory Gardner, R-Colo., and supported by the Brewers Association.
Wyden also secured a win for climate with a provision to establish a pilot project for farmers across the country to implement advanced farming practices to capture carbon in soil. These farming practices have been shown to improve soil health and crop resilience while lowering the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. The soil health provision is supported by the American Coalition for Ethanol, Environmental Entrepreneurs, the National Corn Growers Association and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Wyden and other western senators included a provision to ensure long-standing Farm Bill programs will be easily accessible to states, counties and communities to combat drought. The provision streamlines USDA’s ability to get funding from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQUIP) on the ground to help western farmers with water conservation projects.
Energy Efficient Farms
Wyden included a measure that he sponsored with Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., to improve the energy efficiency of farms. The provision would allow federal funding from the Rural Energy Assistance Program (REAP) to be used to buy energy efficient farm equipment, which will help farmers reduce their operating costs. It will also encourage the expansion of energy and water efficient vertical farming.
Collaborative Forest Restoration
Wyden and Merkley secured a provision to increase funding for the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP) to empower rural communities across Oregon to restore effective forest management and improve forest health. The provision was also cosponsored by Jim Risch (R-ID), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Tom Udall (D-NM) and Jon Tester (D-MT).
Mass Wood Products
Wyden and Merkley secured several provisions in the Timber Innovation Act, supporting the development of mass timber products for building construction and promoting the growth of Oregon’s cross-laminated timber industry.
Wyden and Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, sponsored a bipartisan amendment to provide farmers with up-front federal funding through conservation programs for fence repairs that is included in the final Farm Bill.