schwank_smIt is rare, exceptionally rare, to find a politician who puts the interests of others, be it business, advocates, industry and voters before their own political career and party. Doing otherwise seems odd. Yet for State Senator Judy Schwank (D-Berks), she’s in it for us – as she championed the return of the Industrial Hemp Crop and Industry for Pennsylvania.

Senator Schwank introduced legislation 18 months ago to take advantage of the Federal Farm Bill provision that gave States the opportunity to introduce legislation to undertake pilot and marketing programs with the Industrial Hemp crop. As a committed soldier of agricultural initiatives, Senator Schwank went to work, as she wanted to ensure that every opportunity was given to Pennsylvania farmers and entrepreneurs who dared.


Senator Schwank educates about hemp at the PAHIC booth at the 2016 PA Farm Show

She championed a Senate Bill with the support of State Senator Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon). Although from opposing parties their goals aligned.

A GOP member introduced a similar bill in the House of Representatives. Senator Schwank’s bill quickly passed Senate committee and received a unanimous vote in the Senate. The House refused to place Senator Schwank’s bill on its calendar and insisted that their bill be considered, even though the delay would prevent a planting this year. So then there were two bills – one House and one Senate. Yet politics being what they are in Harrisburg, the House leadership wanted the GOP member and the GOP House to get the credit. The Senate GOP was not far behind in wanting to ensure they were seen as the champion of PA’s farmers, even though it was Schwank who raised and fought for the opportunity.

leadershipIn what can only be defined as true leadership, Senator Schwank let all know that it was not important for her name nor her party affiliation to get the credit for her tireless efforts. She stayed the course and wanted PA’s farmers and industry to have this opportunity.

So Senator Schwank, and her rarely recognized staff, directed and worked to get the House Bill passed in a Senate Committee and the full Senate. That Bill, without her name or affiliation will be sent this week to Governor Wolfe to sign into law.

We celebrate and salute State Senator Schwank. PA would be better off if there were more like her in Harrisburg!

Geoff Whaling
Pennsylvania Hemp Industry Council

Board of Directors
Pennsylvania Farmers Union