02202018CM0491RSPRINGFIELD – Illinois farmers will now have the ability to cultivate industrial hemp under a proposal by State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights) that was signed into law over the weekend.

“Illinois has some of the best farmland in the Midwest, with fertile agricultural land across all regions of our state,” Hutchinson said. “This new law ensures our farmers have the ability to produce a product that is already available in our stores.”

Hutchinson’s new law, contained in Senate Bill 2298, creates the Industrial Hemp Act and allows 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.”

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

Senate Bill 2298 takes effect immediately.

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