Hemp Regulations Will Be Issued Inside Weeks, Major USDA Official Says

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A leading U.S. Division of Agriculture (USDA) official says that the division expects to release an interim final rule on hemp regulations inside “the subsequent couple of weeks.”

In the course of a hearing ahead of the Senate Agriculture Committee on Thursday, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) told USDA Deputy Secretary Stephen Censky that there’s been a “big rise in interest” in hemp amongst farmers in her state given that the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which federally legalized the crop and its derivatives.

“States are at the moment functioning their way by means of the rulemaking course of action, but they do have to have guidance,” she mentioned.

The senator asked if Censky could offer a timeline for the release of federal hemp regulations.

“We would anticipate to be issuing the interim final rule right here inside the subsequent couple of weeks,” he mentioned. “We have been in the interagency clearance course of action now for more than 90 days, functioning with some of our federal colleagues by means of the [White House Office of Management and Budget] course of action to get input for there.”

“I believe we’re nearing—just about at the finish of that course of action,” he mentioned.

The Justice Division ’s Workplace of Legal Policy has also been involved in reviewing the proposed regulations, a USDA official mentioned at an occasion in September.

The division previously indicated that it would release the regulations in August, but that timeline has shifted, with officials lately stating that they’d be issued this fall, prior to the 2020 planting season.

In his opening testimony, Censky discussed the progress USDA’s Agricultural Advertising Service (AMS) has produced on hemp.

He mentioned that AMS “has been functioning aggressively to stand up the Hemp Production Plan in advance of the 2020 planting season,” which has “involved soliciting stakeholder feedback, like, but not restricted to, an open webinar listening session in March 2019.”

“Many voices had been represented throughout this listening session and the insights provided throughout this and other stakeholder input had been utilised by AMS to craft an interim final rule,” he mentioned. “Over the final handful of months, USDA has been functioning with our Federal partners to make certain the Hemp Production Plan does not conflict with current applications and to make certain the burden on producers and other stakeholders is minimized.”

Two regions of discussion the official noted concern “opportunities for Tribes to participle in hemp production and the effects the regulation will have on the agricultural lending market.”

“These conversations have been productive and offered an all round improvement to the design and style of the Hemp Production Plan,” he mentioned. “Based on the most current discussions, a lot of of the initial issues have been addressed and it has been indicated the rule ought to be cleared for publication quickly. We appear forward to getting this system offered to interested States, Tribes, and producers.”

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Photo courtesy of Brendan Cleak.

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