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Hemp production rule announced

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Tuesday, Oct. 29, announced the regulations and guidelines for domestic industrial hemp production, giving farmers a roadmap for the 2020 growing season.

“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,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said. “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 hemp production rule creates much-needed standards for production, testing and licensing.

“This is the long-awaited interpretation from USDA of what Congress passed in the 2018 Farm Bill as it relates to the legalization of hemp,” Scott Bennett, Congressional Relations director at American Farm Bureau Federation, said. “This interim final rule provides clarity to producers on everything from crop insurance, THC testing methods, crop destruction protocols to interstate commerce.”

Hemp farmers have struggled getting financing for their operations as the banking industry needed guidance from USDA. Bennett noted the interim final rule allows bankers to serve the hemp industry.

“The banking industry largely has awaited these regulations in order to develop guidance regarding deposits derived from hemp operations,” Bennett said. “Without these regulations, the banking industry hasn’t been willing to take the risk of accepting deposits or lending money to these businesses. So, we see this as a positive enforcement of receiving financing for your hemp operation.”

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 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.

Farmers should review the hemp production rule and provide feedback to USDA.

The public can provide comment through the Federal Register for a period of 60 days beginning Oct. 31.

“I encourage producers to take a look at the interim final rule, see how it may impact their hemp operation, and then provide that input to USDA,” Bennett said.

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