WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) applauded the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) announcement that 84 counties and cities in Virginia are now eligible to apply for two programs that protect hemp producers’ crops in the 2020 growing season. The Multi-Peril Crop Insurance (MPCI) pilot program provides coverage for hemp producers in case of crop loss due to natural disasters. The Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) coverage protects against crop losses where no permanent federal crop insurance program is available. Virginia’s eligibility in the hemp crop insurance pilot program is a direct result of the Senators’ successful push for the Commonwealth’s inclusion. Virginia’s hemp producers may now apply for the programs by the March 16, 2020 deadline.
“We are pleased that Virginia’s hemp producers will now be able to protect their crops in the event of unforeseen disasters,” said the Senators. “With Virginia positioned to be a top producer of industrial hemp in the country, these additional protections will help hemp growers tap into this thriving industry.”
The 84 counties and cities now eligible include Accomack and Northampton counties.
Hemp is distinct from marijuana in that it has a miniscule concentration of THC, and thus no narcotic capability. The plant is estimated to be used in more than 25,000 products, including agriculture, textile, recycling, automotive, furniture, food, nutrition, beverage, paper, personal care, and construction products. In 2018, the Senators sponsored a provision in the Farm Bill that removed hemp from the list of controlled substances, allowing Virginia farmers to grow and sell the plant as a commodity and making it eligible for crop insurance. According to recent VDACS data, there are now over 1,100 registered industrial hemp growers across the Commonwealth.
In December 2019, the Senators backed two bipartisan, bicameral spending bills that provided $16.5 million in new funding to implement the Hemp Production Program. Additionally, in December, they urged USDA to make changes to its proposed hemp regulations to better help Virginia farmers seeking to grow industrial hemp. Recently, the Senators sent a letter to the USDA to expedite its review of Virginia’s Plan to Regulate Hemp Production to provide sufficient time for the General Assembly to update the Commonwealth’s hemp laws and address any potential deficiencies that may arise ahead of the 2020 growing season.