Following Bennet Letter to Federal Financial Regulators, New Guidance Will Help Hemp Industry Access Banking System
Washington, D.C. – Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet welcomed new guidance from federal financial regulators that would help hemp producers and processors gain access to the banking system. Despite the removal of hemp as a Schedule 1 drug last December following passage of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (“2018 Farm Bill”), many growers and processors are still unable to access financial services due to a lack of clarity from regulators. In June, Bennet sent a letter pressing regulators to provide the clarity necessary for the hemp industry to access the financial services afforded to comparable crops and agricultural products.
“The hemp industry is booming in Colorado and across the country, yet hemp-related businesses continue to face significant hurdles due to the lack of access to the banking system,” said Bennet. “While more needs to be done to unleash hemp’s economic potential, these new guidelines are a significant step forward in providing banks and credit unions with the assurance and clarity needed to remove this barrier and open their doors to the growing hemp industry.”
Bennet, a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, worked to include a pilot program for hemp growers in the 2014 Farm Bill, which paved the way to secure legalization of the crop in the 2018 Farm Bill. Last Congress he led the Hemp Water Rights Act and called on the Department of Justice not to interfere with hemp cultivation or act against financial institutions that handle related funds. Bennet and U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.) wrote to the Bureau of Reclamation in January 2019 urging the agency to update its policies in accordance with the 2018 Farm Bill to ensure hemp growers can access water and irrigate their crops. In their response to the Bennet-Tester letter, the Bureau of Reclamation said: “Because hemp was removed from the Controlled Substances Act list of controlled substances, it is no longer subject to the policy and therefore Reclamation is able to provide water for hemp cultivation in accordance with current law.”