Indiana is a state that is largely supported by its agriculture industry. More than 100,000 Hoosiers are employed in this sector, and over 14 million acres are designated as farmland. This industry is critical to our strong economy. It’s important Indiana continues to provide farmers with opportunities to thrive.
With this in mind, the General Assembly is working to pass legislation this session that would open up a new door for Hoosier farmers by allowing those who obtain a license from the state seed commissioner to grow and handle industrial hemp in Indiana. Senate Bill 516 would also establish the Indiana Hemp Advisory Committee, which would advise the Office of the State Seed Commissioner on Indiana's hemp laws.
While hemp is biologically related to marijuana, it is a non-intoxicating plant that can be used for oil and fiber products.
The 2018 federal Farm Bill, which was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump late last year, removed industrial hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, making it a legal crop in the United States.
Under SB 516, the state seed commissioner would be allowed to revoke a hemp license for intentional violations of the law or if the licensee fails to cooperate with law enforcement or the state seed commissioner.
In my pre-session survey, 87 percent of the respondents from Senate District 48 said they would support allowing Indiana farmers to grow this commodity. The fibers from hemp can be used to make clothing, construction materials, paper and plastic. There are millions of pounds of hemp fiber imported into our state each year from other countries. Allowing our farmers to grow this commodity is an important step for Indiana and farmers who make up our local communities.
SB 516 received strong support in the Senate, and I am hopeful that it will fair well when considered by the House of Representatives.
As always, feel free to contact me directly with your questions and concerns at Senator.Messmer@iga.in.gov or by phone at 800-382-9467.
A high-resolution photo of State Sen. Mark Messmer is available by clicking here.