USDA establishes new rules for hemp production as new program kicks off

USA – The US Department of Agriculture is set to finalize interim rules that will allow hemp to be grown under federally approved plans and make hemp producers eligible for a number of agricultural programs.

USDA has established a US Domestic Hemp Production Program which creates a consistent regulatory framework around hemp production throughout the United States.

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In line with the program, the agency noted that the yet to be published rules will provide a framework allowing the USDA to approve hemp production plans developed by states and Indian tribes.

This will include; requirements 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; and licensing requirements.

USDA also developed guidelines for sampling and testing procedures that are being issued concurrently with this rule. These guidelines provide additional information for sampling agents and hemp testing laboratories.

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.

“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 of Agriculture Sonny 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 Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, also known as the farm bill, removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act when it was enacted into law in December 2018.

Hemp in the United States now is defined as cannabis and cannabis derivatives that contain no more than 0.3% THC. Amounts exceeding this level means the substance is marijuana.

Currently the FDA’s position is cannabidiol (CBD), a hemp extract, cannot be used as an ingredient in a dietary supplements, food or beverages because it is an active ingredient in an F.D.A.-approved drug.

There is a significant interest in the development of consumer products derived from cannabis and its components, including cannabidiol and the food and beverage industry is reportedly waiting on the agency to introduce updated regulations on hemp.

Stakeholders have been pushing the Food and Drug Administration to expediently issue guidance so that hemp-derived CBD can be lawfully marketed.

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