The 2018 Farm Bill has legalized the production of industrial hemp in the US and the lawmakers of the state of Montana have been looking for ways to integrate hemp into the agricultural economy of the state. In line with this, Governor Steve Bullock has approved 3 hemp-related bills recently. These are the Senate Bills 178, 177, and 176. All three bills have been passed through legislature without amendments.
The three bills that Governor Bullock signed seek to exempt equipment used for processing hemp from taxation. These bills have generally revised the laws on hemp in Montana while giving power to the Montana Dept. of Agriculture to establish a program for hemp certification. Bullock signed the Senate Bill 177 on April 26 while the other two bills were signed in April 29.
A Leader in Hemp Production
The sponsor of the Bill, Senator Tom Jacobson, believes that these will pave the way for Montana to become the leader in the production of hemp in the United States. In the previous year, Montana was considered one of the largest producers of hemp in the country. Hemp is known to have less than 0.3% of THC, the psychoactive component in marijuana that’s responsible for getting people high.
Changing the laws on hemp in Montana could mean that farmers will no longer need to be fingerprinted to obtain their license. In addition, the Dept. of Agriculture in Montana will no longer apply extreme precautions in keeping the lock and key of hemp seeds.
Hemp Certification Program
In line with the signing of the three Senate Bills, the Agriculture Dept. of the state will create a hemp certification program that will give growers and producers the power to leverage the distinct identity of the state in the open market of hemp.
The certification program will be somewhat the same as the “certified organic.” However, according to the spokesman of the Montana Dept. of Agriculture, the requirements needed to become certified will not be as strict as that of the certified organic. According to them, the main focus is to prove that the product is genuine hemp and that it was cultivated in the state of Montana.
Exemption on Hemp Processing Equipment
One of the bills will exempt the equipment used for processing hemp from taxes. This bill is fairly straightforward. Operators will not be obliged to pay taxes for the extremely expensive equipment used in processing the crop’s raw materials.
The State of Montana has already shown significant interest from those who are looking to cultivate, process, and manufacture hemp into certain products. In fact, the Dept. of Agriculture has recently established a hemp advisory committee, which is the first in the country.
The country is still waiting for the US Dept. of Agriculture to start approving the state hemp programs submitted earlier this year. According to the USDA, they intend to review the plans around fall, right after the growing season is over. Meanwhile, states are expected to fall back on the 2014 pilot programs that are usually more restrictive in nature.