Texas Lawmakers Consider Bipartisan Bill to Establish Commercial Hemp Farming Program

The Texas House Committee on Agriculture and Livestock is scheduled to hold a hearing Monday, April 1, at 10:30 a.m. on four hemp-related bills, including a bipartisan proposal to establish a commercial hemp farming program in Texas.

The bipartisan bill, HB 1325, is sponsored by Rep. Tracy King (D-Batesville) with Reps. Lyle Larson (R-San Antonio), Stan Lambert (R-Abilene), James White (R-Hillister), Roland Gutierrez (D-San Antonio), and Alex Dominguez (D-Brownsville). HB 1230 is also sponsored by Dominguez, and HB 1657 is sponsored by Gutierrez. HB 989 is sponsored by Rep. Ryan Guillen (D-Rio Grande City) with Rep. Terry Meza (D-Irving).  In January, the committee released an interim report recommending lawmakers enact legislation this year to authorize and regulate commercial hemp farming in Texas, stating it "could be beneficial for Texas farmers, the Texas economy, the U.S. economy, and the environment." The committee unanimously approved hemp legislation last session (HB 3587), but it was never scheduled for a vote on the House floor despite broad support from the Texas farming industry, the report noted.

"Now that hemp farming is legal under federal law, Texas needs to move quickly to develop a federally compliant hemp program," said Shawn Hauser, a leader of the American Hemp Campaign, who plans to testify at Monday's hearing. Hauser, a Texas native and University of Texas at Austin alumna, chairs the Hemp Practice Group at Vicente Sederberg LLC and is widely recognized as a leading voice on hemp law and policy. 

"Hemp would be an economic boon for Texas," Hauser said. "It would be a profitable new crop for farmers and create a host of opportunities for manufacturers and other entrepreneurs."

Hauser is also lead author of the American Hemp Campaign's model hemp production plan and guide to the 2018 farm bill. The farm bill, which was approved by Congress and signed into law by President Trump in December, lifted the federal government's prohibition on hemp farming.

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