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Opening Statements

Opening Statement: Republican Leader Jim Baird Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research Subcommittee Hearing: "An Examination of the USDA Hemp Production Program”

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

Good morning, and thank you, Chair Plaskett for holding this hearing today, and to our witnesses for joining us.

I think it is noteworthy to mention this is the first hearing the House Committee on Agriculture has held on hemp, ever. Mind you, the 2014 Farm Bill authorized the hemp research pilot program and the 2018 Farm Bill subsequently legalized hemp production at the federal level. To say this is important is an understatement.

I am pleased we have a well-rounded stakeholder panel today with representatives from the hemp industry, including two state regulators, a researcher, a tribal representative, and a company that manufactures hemp products.

That said, I do believe it is a missed opportunity that we won’t hear from the federal agencies who are tasked with implementing provisions related to hemp today. Madam Chair, I remain hopeful we can find an opportunity to hear from both USDA and FDA.

As the hemp industry rapidly expanded following the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, a wave of innovation followed, as researchers and companies started identifying uses for hemp fiber including building materials, insulation, animal bedding, concrete, and even car parts. This is one of my areas of interest and I look forward to hearing more.

This rapid expansion of the hemp industry also led to increased interest and research surrounding the use of hemp in animal feed. Given my background in animal science and monogastric nutrition, I look forward to hearing more about this research, including whether it’s been tested, and what is on the horizon. 

Even though the legalization of hemp has spurred innovation in the use of hemp fiber and grain, we are seeing much of the hemp grown in the United States used to manufacture hemp-derived CBD. Since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, there has been no regulatory framework from the Food and Drug Administration for CBD products, leading to uncertainty for producers, manufacturers, retailers, and consumers.

While we are certain to hear about successes in the hemp industry, it is important to note there have been many challenges, leading to a significant decline in the number of hemp acres planted since 2019. As we discuss potential areas for change in the 2023 Farm Bill, it is critical we comprehensively understand these challenges to ensure our policies benefit producers and consumers alike.

Again, I would like to thank the witnesses for taking the time to be with us today and I look forward to hearing more about the work they are doing within the hemp industry.

With that, I yield back.