A Florida legislative panel approved a bill on Monday that would legalize industrial agriculture and give farmers in the state a new crop for their operations. The measure, Senate Bill 1020 (SB1020), was approved by a unanimous vote of the Senate Agriculture Committee. If passed, SB1020 would authorize the Florida Department of Agriculture to develop a regulatory system for the farming of industrial hemp, which was legalized federally by Congress with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. A similar bill is scheduled to be considered by Florida’s House Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Tuesday.

State Sen. Rob Bradley, the sponsor of the legislation, said that Florida should move quickly now that hemp has been legalized at the federal level.

“We want to be a leader in hemp, rather than a follower,” said Bradley.

Supporters of the bill say that hemp would give the state another cash crop and could provide farmers and timber companies in areas devastated by Hurricane Michael last year a new opportunity for economic development and recovery.

“The intent here is to get this emerging industry to be viable in the state of Florida and for us to be as cutting edge as possible while also respecting the guide rails

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