In light of the overwhelming passage of legislation favoring Industrial Hemp farming, Rural Vermont is pleased to see that Vermont farmers are now one step closer to growing hemp. The recent passage of H.747 authorizes the Vermont Agency of Agriculture to begin the process of allowing Vermont farmers the economic opportunity to cultivate Industrial Hemp. Although, the legislation is still dependant on the removal of federal prohibitions, Rural Vermont is pleased that a third consecutive Vermont Legislative Biennium overwhelming displayed strong support for Vermont farmers to cultivate industrial hemp as a cash crop.
In celebration of Hemp History Week (June 4- June 11) Rural Vermont will host a special presentation on the economic potential of industrial hemp with Netaka White on Wednesday June 6 at 7:00 pm. The talk and discussion will be held at the Addison County Regional Planning Commission office on Seminary Street in Middlebury, VT. The discussion will highlight the uses of industrial hemp and how the crop can fit into Vermont?s agricultural landscape and economy. A review of current state and federal hemp policy will also be discussed.
Netaka White is the BioenergyProgram Director at the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund, and heads up the Vermont Bioenergy Initiative (VBI). The VBI provides grants and technical assistance to Vermont farms and businesses in order to increase the local production and local use of sustainable bioenergy fuels and feedstocks. Says White, ?The Vermont Legislature has once again shown their leadership on the hemp issue. The Sustainable Jobs Fund is optimistic that before long, industrial hemp will be an additional source of local food, oil, energy, livestock feed, and jobs. In my mind, it?s no longer a question of ?if? Vermont farmers will have the ability to grow hemp and contribute to our agricultural economy, but when.?
Rural Vermont has been advocating with Vermont farmers to once again allow for the cultivation of industrial hemp. ?Rural Vermont?s hemp campaign has been energized by grassroots activists from Brattleboro to Warren who want the ability to cultivate hemp just as our Canadian neighbors are allowed to,? states Robb Kidd, Rural Vermont Organizer. In 2008, Rural Vermont was the lead advocate in promoting the Vermont Industrial Hemp Bill, Act 212. However, Act 212 only allows Vermont farmers to grow industrial hemp once federal regulations permit it. As an affirmation, in 2009 Rural Vermont urged passage of a joint resolution directing the federal government and the federal delegation to legalize the growing of industrial hemp.
In the summer of 2011, Rural Vermont supporters successfully convinced Congressman Peter Welch to co-sponsor the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, H.R.1831 in the U.S. House of Representatives. ?Vermont farmers and businesses are left with an unnecessary competitive disadvantage in developing a valuable and diversified crop, and in order for Vermont farmers to benefit, Vermont?s Congressional leaders will need to work to remove the federal prohibition,? Kidd also stated.