Hutchinson passes Industrial Hemp Act, legislation heads to governor

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SPRINGFIELD – Illinois would join a growing list of states allowing for the cultivation of industrial hemp under a plan passed this afternoon by State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D – Chicago Heights).

“Illinois has some of the best farmland in the Midwest,” Hutchinson said. “And with more than 80 percent of our land use tied to agriculture, farmers would finally have the chance to grow and produce a product that is already available in our stores.”

Hutchinson’s plan, contained in Senate Bill 2298, would create the Industrial Hemp Act, allowing farmers to apply to the Illinois Department of Agriculture for a license to cultivate and process industrial hemp. In 2014, the federal farm bill for the first time allowed universities and state departments of agriculture to develop pilot programs to study the cultivation and marketing of industrial hemp. Illinois passed legislation in 2015 allowing state universities with four-year agriculture degrees to research hemp.

“The Illinois Farm Bureau has long had policy, implemented by our grassroots members, that supports the production, processing and utilization of industrial hemp,” said Bill Bodine, Associate Director of State Legislation with the Illinois Farm Bureau.  “Our members look forward to having the ability to raise a new crop that can help them diversify their farms.  We appreciate all the hard work and leadership of Sen. Hutchinson in passing Senate Bill 2298.”

Industrial hemp has a myriad of uses, including paper, plastics, textiles and even fuel.

Senate Bill 2298 passed the Senate without opposition today and will now head to the governor for his signature.