The White House approves USDA hemp production rules

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

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Federal hemp production rules drafted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have been approved by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

The USDA’s new interim final rules legalizes hemp production nationwide. Effectuated on Thursday, October 31, this regulatory information has been eagerly awaited by hemp farmers.

From the growing year commencing in 2020, hemp farmers who have obtained a license to participate in federally-approved production programs will gain access to crop insurance, disaster assistance and loans associated with the USDA’s agencies.

Approved farmers will be able to apply for hemp programs under the Farm Service Agency (FSA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Risk Management Agency (RMA).

How can farmers apply for hemp production programs?

In order to reap the benefits of the USDA’s hemp farming programs, cultivators must first track down their local FSA office to submit an acreage report; reports of this kind are generally filed following spring harvest.

A number of crucial details should be included in the acreage report, including an authorization/license number as provided by the applicant’s state, tribe or local USDA service center. Additionally, farmers must outline their intentions for acreage, such as what part of the plant they utilize; hemp flower, seed, grain or fiber.

What do the interim rules for the USDA’s hemp production programs entail?

Licenses must be renewed every three years and applications will be open 30 days following the interim rule’s effective date. Farmers will have the opportunity to apply at anytime during the initial year of applications for the USDA’s hemp production programs. Hemp farming license applications and renewals must be filed from August 1-October 31 for all subsequent years.

As per the rules for the USDA’s hemp production program, all yields must first be sampled and tested to ensure they do not exceed the concentration limit of 0.3 percent THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). Currently, the USDA is contemplating making it a requirement that all hemp-testing laboratories have ISO 17025 accreditation.

Random audits may be contacted by the USDA as a means of confirming that all plants are being cultivated in accordance with the Department’s interim rules for hemp production. In the event that a violation arises, a Notice of Violation will be issued.

All licensed hemp producers in the U.S. must provide accurate information to support cultivation reports for a minimum of three years. Farmers can read more information about the USDA’s hemp production programs by clicking here.