The 2018 Farm Bill made it legal for farmers to grow hemp, but there have been some hiccups along the way.
On Tuesday, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the establishment of the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program, headed up by the Agricultural Marketing Service.
It comes as producers are making their decisions for the 2020 growing season. The program requires all hemp producers to be licensed, and includes testing protocols to ensure that hemp is hemp, not marijuana.
“It meets congressional intent of seeking to provide a fair, consistent and science-based process for states, tribes and other individual producers who want to participate in this program,” said Perdue.
The interim final rule will go into effect on Thursday October 31, followed by a public comment period. Undersecretary of Agriculture for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach said the 2020 growing season will be a test run of the interim rule to guide adjustments made in the final rule.
“The interim final rule will sunset after two years, which gives us time to make it through a full crop cycle as well as deliver a final rule,” said Ibach.
According to Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey, this rule also will give licensed hemp growers access to tools corn and soybean producers have.
“This rule enables USDA Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Risk Management Agency to determine [eligibility for] farmers who want to grow hemp for various USDA programs including loans, crop insurance, disaster assistance, and conservation programs,” said Northey.
More information about the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program can be found here.