A congressman introduced a bill on Friday that would create a variety of programs and grants to help people enter the hemp industry and build their businesses. It would also require a federal study into potential alternative uses for the crop as well as challenges faced by the market.
Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-VA) filed the Hemp Opportunity Zone Act. As the title implies, the main component of the legislation clarifies that farmers who cultivate the crop can receive tax benefits if they operate in an area designated as an “opportunity zone” by the Treasury Department.
Opportunity zones are census-designated low-income areas that are considered economically distressed. The governor of a state can make the designation, and Treasury then decides whether to certify it. The program is designed to promote investments in communities that might typically be overlooked by allowing investors to defer capital gains taxes if they put money into an opportunity zone business.
“We are reviewing the legislation now, but if it indeed serves to open up investment in hard-hit farming and small business communities, it would be welcome relief for an industry that has been struggling through the COVID pandemic and federal burdens imposed by FDA, USDA and now the DEA,” Jonathan Miller, general counsel for the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, told Marijuana Moment.