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I am so excited that the Illinois Department of Agriculture is now drafting rules for the historic Industrial Hemp Farming Act, which passed this summer.

I am among those anxious to get acquainted with this versatile crop. As a first-generation farmer, a business owner, and a citizen concerned with the ramifications that intensive farming has had on our environment and health, I am rooting for this misunderstood and stigmatized plant to make a comeback.

Many of us following hemp closely expected draft rules and regulations by now. We're counting on Governor-elect JB Pritzker to make the state licensing program for industrial hemp production a priority in his first 100 days in Springfield.

With a new committee set to focus on policies that will help agriculture and rural communities thrive, Pritzker's Growing Our Agricultural Economy Committee has a unique opportunity to do just that with hemp as an ally.

We can all play a role in pushing this historic legislation by writing to our state legislators to thank them for supporting hemp (it passed nearly unanimously), and to ask that s/he checks in with the Illinois Dept of Agriculture to make sure that rules are in the works.

Illinois has a lot to gain from hemp cultivation and we need urgency and cooperation to get rules finalized and a permit process in place in time for May planting. Let's help farmers get seeds in the ground so we can grow, build, and create new jobs in 2019.

Rachel Berry

Princeton, Ill.

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