USDA establishes domestic hemp production program

On October 29, 2019, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the establishment of the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program through an interim final rule. This rule, as required by the 2018 Farm Bill, creates a consistent regulatory framework around hemp production throughout the United States.

The program includes provisions for maintaining information on the land where hemp is produced, testing the levels of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), disposing of plants not meeting necessary requirements, licensing requirements, and ensuring compliance with the requirements of the new program.

Hemp-testing labs using the CGM LABDAQ laboratory information management system (LIMS) are equipped to analyze, store, and disseminate the results of delta-9 THC testing to hemp producers.

Using Sample Storage within CGM LABDAQ, users can quickly locate the storage location or hemp product designated for retesting or destruction. Sample destruction is also documented within the LIMS software. Relying on color-coded results within CGM LABDAQ, lab managers can clearly see when a result is out of range. A report for the hemp producers indicates which plants exceeded the permissible level of THC.

“At USDA, we are always excited when there are new economic opportunities for our farmers, and we hope the ability to grow hemp will pave the way for new products and markets,” said Secretary Perdue.

“We have had 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.”

The interim final rule is effective October 31, 2019, through November 1, 2021. Comments received by December 30, 2019, will be considered prior to the issuance of the final rule.

Here is the transcript of Perdue’s announcement:

Hello everyone, as I travel across this great country of ours, I hear a lot about a strong interest in a new economic opportunity for America’s farmers: the production of hemp. Which is why today I am pleased to announce the USDA has published the rule establishing the US domestic hemp production program.

We said we’d get it done in time for producers to make planning decisions for 2020 and we followed through. We have had 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.

As mandated by Congress, our program requires all hemp growers to be licensed and includes testing protocols to ensure that hemp grown under this program is hemp and nothing else. The USDA has also worked to provide licensed growers access to loans and risk management products available for other crops.

As the interim final rule, the rule becomes effective immediately upon publication in the federal register.

But we still want to hear from you. Help us make sure the regulations meet your needs. That’s why the publication of the interim final rule also includes a public comment period continuing a full and transparent rule-making process that started with a hemp listening session all the way back in March 2019.

At USDA, we are always excited when there are new economic opportunities for our farmers and we hope the ability to grow hemp will pave the way for new products and markets. And I encourage all producers to take the time to fully educate themselves on the processes, requirements and risk that come with any market or product before entering this new frontier.

The Agricultural Marketing Service will be providing additional information, resources and educational opportunities on the new program. And I encourage you to visit the USDA hemp website for more information. As always, we thank you for your patience and input during this process.

Sonny Perdue, Secretary of Agriculture

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