Lawmakers discuss ways to help hemp farmers
The state's hemp industry was the focus of a public hearing in Augusta Thursday.
Lawmakers debated a resolution to direct the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry to send the U.S. Department of Agriculture a plan to allow Maine to continue its industrial hemp program.
Department officials said they are currently working on a plan to do just that.
Lawmakers say that they want to make sure the rules allow Maine farmers to be profitable and thrive when it comes to growing hemp.
"I think we now have an administration and a department that is working really closely with the producers of hemp to ensure that this industry and doesn't take a back turn," said Rep. Craig Hickman, D-Winthrop.
"We are no longer in a space where farmers need to be in debt just to keep farming. And hemp has been a door that has opened and we want to make sure that door stays open."
Earlier this week, the Agriculture Department heard from hemp growers to get their input about proposed rules for the local industry.