MTPR

Farm Bill

Bills Aimed At Montana’s Hemp Industry Move Forward

Feb 19, 2019
Hemp plant.
iStock

HELENA -- The 2018 Federal Farm Bill legalized industrial hemp production and Montana lawmakers are considering the best ways to integrate it into the state’s agriculture economy.

Sen. Tom Jacobson, D-Great Falls, is sponsoring two hemp-related bills. Senate Bill 176 would allow the Montana Department of Agriculture to create a hemp certification program plan. Senate Bill 177 would eliminate the criminal background check requirement to grow hemp. The Montana Senate passed both bills this week and they now head to the House of Representatives.

Hemp plant.
iStock

Montana’s senior U.S. senator wants to ensure the ongoing partial government shutdown doesn’t hamper farmers’ ability to grow hemp.

Specifically, Democrat Jon Tester wants to make sure hemp growers have access to federal Bureau of Reclamation water.

Farm field. File photo.
thinkreaction / iStock

Senator Steve Daines called the 2018 Farm Bill a win for Montana on a press call Wednesday morning.

"Agriculture is our number one economic driver in Montana," Daines said. "The important outcome of passing the Farm Bill is that it provides certainty for Montana farmers and Montana ranchers in difficult times."

The Senate passed the farm bill on Dec. 11, 2018.
(PD)

Both of Montana’s senators voted for the farm bill, a multibillion-dollar legislative package to fund agriculture and food aid programs, which the Senate passed Tuesday.

The mammoth package will fund key farm safety net programs for the next five years without making significant changes to the food stamp program that serves nearly 40 million low-income Americans.

Montana farm field.
Parker Beckley / Missoula Grain and Vegetable Company

Montana’s senior Senator says the Trump administration’s ongoing tariff disputes are hurting Montana farmers.

During his monthly press call, Democrat Jon Tester characterized the Trump administration’s growing trade war as, “Our country’s self-inflicted problem that really doesn’t seem to have an end in sight.” 

Senator Jon Tester.
Courtesy Sen. Jon Tester

Senator Jon Tester says he’s concerned about Congress’ ability to pass numerous spending bills necessary to keep the federal government operating by the end of this month’s deadline.

Last year a similar time crunch led to Congress passing a so-called omnibus bill. Critics say omnibus bills lack the transparency of passing multiple appropriation bills under so-called “regular order.”

Wednesday a joint U.S. House and Senate committee began a potentially week-long process of reconciling two versions of the Farm Bill. The current bill expires at the end of this month.

Small farm owners in the Flathead Valley worry one version could severely impact SNAP benefits in Montana.

U.S. Senator Steve Daines appearing on C-SPAN on Wednesday, July 25, 2018.
C-SPAN

U.S. Senator Steve Daines says that if there’s a trade war, the first casualties will be American farmers.

"That is a big problem, so we don’t want that. Nobody wants that. President Trump doesn’t want that," said Daines.

The Senate has started debating its version of the Farm Bill, and both of Montana’s Senators, Jon Tester and Steve Daines, say their chamber’s version of the Farm Bill is good news for Montana farmers and ranchers. But they disagree on at least one important aspect of it.

First, Yellowstone Public Radio's Jackie Yamanaka reports on what they agree on.

A team of volunteers rallied to get thousands of pounds of potatoes and bread to Heart Butte after a severe storm stranded the community on New Year's Day.
Courtesy Kathryn Hayes

Hunger is a chronic problem for many families on the Blackfeet Reservation. Grocery stores are few and far between, and the poverty rate is around 40 percent.

Like in any rural area, fresh food especially is expensive. It takes a lot of hours in the car or on the phone to access public assistance programs. But when a severe winter storm blew in around New Year's Eve, the chronic hunger issue became an acute crisis.

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