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Ag measures signed by governor

(CIFN file photo)

DU QUOIN — Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed the Industrial Hemp Act, Senate Bill 2298, adding Illinois to a growing number of states that permit growth of cannabis cultivated for non-drug uses such as paper- and fabric-making, biodegradable plastics, construction materials and health food.

The governor also signed House Bill 5749 recently, easing weight-limit restrictions on state highways during harvest time, improving the competitive outlook for Illinois farmers and agricultural commodities haulers. Both measures will enhance one of the state’s leading industries: farming.

“Legalizing the farming of industrial hemp just makes good sense,” Rauner said. “Roughly 38 states — including our neighbors in Wisconsin, Kentucky, Indiana, Missouri and Tennessee — have allowed or are considering allowing cultivation of this crop for commercial, research or pilot programs. Our farmers should have this option as well. This new state licensure program begins that process.”

“The Illinois Farm Bureau appreciates Gov. Rauner signing SB 2298 which legalizes the growing of industrial hemp by Illinois farmers,” said Richard Guebert Jr., president, Illinois Farm Bureau. “Illinois Farm Bureau policy, developed by our grassroots members, has long supported the production, processing, and utilization of industrial hemp. Illinois farmers will now have new opportunities to diversify their farms by growing this versatile crop.”

“We are excited that Gov. Rauner is signing into law a bill that will bring a new sustainable agriculture industry and millions of dollars in investment and economic growth to Illinois,” added Jen Walling, executive director of the Illinois Environmental Council. “Industrial hemp will bring new opportunities to Illinois farmers. We are very grateful to the elected officials and advocates that worked so long to pass the right bill for Illinois.”

The Industrial Hemp Act, effective immediately, creates a state licensure program through the Department of Agriculture that enables those who desire to grow the crop to do so. The state Department of Agriculture shall establish rules for THC-level testing of industrial hemp crops.

“Today, hemp products are sold on store shelves throughout Illinois, but our farmers are not able to grow hemp in their fields,” said Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti, who chairs the Governor’s Rural Affairs Council and attended today’s bill signing at the State Fair in Du Quoin. “Our farmers lead the nation in corn and soybean production. In signing this bill, Gov. Rauner is providing our framers another crop for their fields and another opportunity to compete nationally.”

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