Kentucky Hemp Farmers Lobby U.S. Congress for Banking Access
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 28, 2019
Washington, D.C. Representatives of the Kentucky Hemp Industries Association (KYHIA) were on Capitol Hill for a meeting with the staffs of Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Representative John Lewis (D-GA) and Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), to discuss solutions for the banking issues that are hampering the development of the hemp industry.
KYHIA board member Joe Hickey explained the situation. “The reluctance of the banking industry to provide financial services to hemp farmers, processors and entrepreneurs is crippling this emerging industry and stalling rural economic development,” he said. Hickey is director of corporate relations at Atalo Holdings, one of the largest permitted hemp production companies in the US. Atalo reports that a number of their wholesale and white label customers across the country have recently been unable to process retail transactions due to uncertainty in the banking industry.
At issue is lack of adherence to the regulatory guidance for the financial sector included in the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 (the Act). Senator McConnell introduced the Act, which was signed into law on December 20, 2018 as part of the US Farm Bill of 2018. “The Act promised to avail hemp farmers federal agricultural grants, to make the national banking system accessible to farmers and others involved, and allow for other benefits of production of a recognized crop such as research, marketing, and crop insurance,” said Tate Hall, president of the Kentucky Hemp Industries Association. “We’re making progress, such as the recent reiteration of the availability of federal crop insurance inserted into the Disaster Relief Bill. However, the banking issues are an immediate obstacle to growth of this industry and are hurting American farmers at a time when this crop should be a benefit,” Tate continued, who also is V.P. of Business Development at Terra Farma, a large hemp processor operating in four states. “We really hope the federal government can figure this thing out quickly to make this a more pro-business and pro-farmer market as they go hand-in hand in the young hemp industry.”
Matthew Willse is a KYHIA member and founder and president of Resonate Foods, a craft hemp farming and processing company from Eddyville, Kentucky that contracts with tobacco and row crop farmers to grow hemp in the region. Willse joined the group in Washington. “It was a great opportunity to discuss banking issues for the hemp industry with Senator McConnell’s staff,” he said. “There are still some basic financial services that aren’t readily available for legal hemp small businesses, especially merchant services and commercial debt, not to mention the advertising challenges the industry faces. I encourage industry stakeholders to make their voices heard as hemp regulations are addressed by Congress, USDA, and FDA in the coming months.”
The Kentucky Hemp Industries Association and its parent organization, the Hemp Industries Association, plan to continue vigorous advocacy for complete implementation of the US Farm Bill and the Hemp Farming Act of 2018. According to Joe Hickey, “Our goal is to encourage Senator McConnell to spearhead the effort to resolve these issues. This financial roadblock was not the intention of the Hemp Farming Act that legalized hemp as a commodity. “Farmers and processors need assurance they will have access to credit card processing and that financial services will be reopened to the hemp industry. They need certainty that there will be no further unexpected bureaucratic roadblocks.”
Contact: Tate Hall Tate@terrafarmacbd.com,
The mission of the Kentucky Hemp Industries Association (KYHIA) is to represent the interests of the emerging Kentucky hemp industry. As a 501(c)(6) membership-based non-profit trade group, we seek to encourage the research and development of new products made from industrial hemp while offering our members a network of like-minded, trusted individuals within the current hemp industry. To learn more about the KYHIA, visit www.kyhia.org