by DEBORAH BEHRENDS
WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Oct. 29, USDA Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the publishing of the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program.
That day, Undersecretary of Agriculture for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach and Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey hosted a conference call explaining the federal plan for hemp farming. They addressed questions from the media about the program and its implementation.
"We have our teams operating with all hands on deck to develop a regulatory framework that meets congressional intent while seeking to provide a fair, consistent, and science-based process for states, tribes, and individual producers who want to participate in this program,” Perdue said.
He explained that, under the program, all hemp famers must be licensed and follow testing protocols, “to ensure that hemp grown under this program is hemp and nothing else.
“At USDA we’re always excited when there are new economic opportunities of our farmers, and we hope the ability to grow hemp will pave the way for new products and markets, but I encourage all producers to take the time to fully educate themselves on the process, requirements, and risks that come with any market or product.”
The rule includes provisions for the USDA to approve hemp production plans developed by states and Indian tribes including: requirements for maintaining information on the land where hemp is produced; testing the levels of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol; disposing of plants not meeting necessary requirements; and licensing requirements. It also establishes a federal plan for hemp producers in states or territories of Indian tribes that do not have their own approved hemp production plan.
The interim final rule becomes effective upon publication in the Federal Register. Following publication, USDA invites public comment on the interim rule and the information collection burden. A preview of the rule is posted on USDA’s website.
USDA also developed guidelines for sampling and testing procedures that are being issued concurrently with this rule. These documents provide additional information for sampling agents and hemp testing laboratories.
More information about the provisions of the interim final rule is available on the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program web page on the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) website.
Once state and tribal plans are in place, hemp producers will be eligible for a number of USDA programs, including insurance coverage through Whole-Farm Revenue Protection. For information on available programs, visit farmers.gov/hemp.