Farmers and State Officials Saying the New USDA Rules for Hemp are Too Onerous

DTN Ag Policy Editor Chris Clayton reported earlier this week that, “The Trump administration has built a track record of reducing or eliminating regulations, yet farmers and state officials are saying the new USDA rules for hemp are too onerous and would harm hemp production already happening in their states.

“Complaints are coming in from several states as USDA has extended the comment period for its interim final rule until Jan. 29.

“Kentucky, the first state to submit its regulatory plan for hemp to USDA after the 2018 farm bill was signed, is now being urged by the Kentucky Hemp Industries Association to forego USDA’s rule in 2020 and stick with the rules written under the 2014 pilot plan. Initially reported by a Kentucky business journal, the Kentucky Hemp Industries Association (KYHIA) wrote state Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles last week outlying the association’s concerns about USDA’s rule. The letter states USDA is planning to over-regulate the infant hemp industry.”

Mr. Clayton pointed out that, “The big problem lies with issues in the testing regime for THC, the principal chemical that generates the high in marijuana, and is limited to just .3% in hemp under the farm bill. The Kentucky Hemp Industry Association is concerned that variations in a tiny sampling of THC could cause the entire crop to be destroyed. A one-acre field with as many as 30,000 plants should not be lost because of the test from a single plant, the KYHIA stated. The group wants USDA to conduct some testing on measurements of uncertainty in a hemp crop.”

The DTN article added that, “Kentucky growers aren’t the only ones to weigh in with concerns. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that state officials there ‘are raising alarms’ over the new federal rules and also warning that USDA’s rules could ‘punish farmers for even the slightest errors.’

“Thom Peterson, Minnesota’s Agriculture commissioner, wrote USDA last week stating that the USDA rules are ‘unworkable’ and would put the state’s ‘promising hemp industry in jeopardy,’ the Star-Tribune reported. Minnesota saw the number of growers jump from 51 in 2018 to 550 in 2019, and the number of acres grew to about 8,000, the article stated.”

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