USDA Announces Listening Session
As we mentioned in our February newsletter, USDA has now issued a broad overview on the implementation of the federal hemp program. They also announced a public webinar listening session On March 13th for hemp stakeholders. Details for attending the webinar have not yet been released.
If you are an NHA member we encourage you to submit your questions or concerns to us as we intend to submit them ahead of the webinar.
USDA also released the following Q&As:
Hemp Production Program Questions and Answers
Question 1: Why is the Department of Agriculture building a marketing program for the commercial production of hemp in the United States?
The 2018 Farm Bill (the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018) directed USDA to develop a program by which it will review and approve plans submitted by each state, territory and Indian tribal agency outlining their production of hemp for commercial uses.
Question 2: What is the purpose of the production plans?
Each state, territory and tribal agency’s plan will provide details on practices and procedures that enable hemp producers in their jurisdiction to operate according to their individual plan and in compliance with federal laws.
Question 3: Who can submit production plans to USDA for consideration?
The 2018 Farm Bill authorizes state departments of agriculture, including agencies representing the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, any other territory or possession of the United States, and Indian tribal governments, to submit plans to USDA for consideration.
Question 4: What should each plan include?
As required by Sec. 297B of the Farm Bill, each plan must describe: (1) a practice to maintain relevant information regarding land on which hemp is produced in the state or territory of the Indian tribe; (2) a procedure for testing, using post-decarboxylation or other similarly reliable methods, delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration to ensure levels are not more than .3% on a dry matter basis in hemp produced in the state or territory of the Indian tribe; (3) a procedure for the effective disposal of plants and products produced in violation of this subtitle; (4) a procedure to comply with law enforcement procedures; (5) a procedure for conducting annual inspections of hemp producers; (6) a procedure for submitting information on hemp producers to USDA; and (7) a certification that the state or Indian tribe has the resources and personnel to carry out the practices and procedures described above.
Question 5: How should state, territory and Indian tribal agencies submit their plans to USDA?
USDA accepts plans via email or postal mail. State departments of agriculture, including agencies representing the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, any other territory or possession of the United States, and Indian tribal governments, may submit their plans to the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Specialty Crops Program using:
Postal mail: Deputy Administrator
Specialty Crops Program
USDA Agricultural Marketing Service
1400 Independence Avenue SW Room 2077-S, Stop 0235 Washington, D.C. 20250-0235
Question 6: When can growers begin planting hemp in compliance with the authorities of the 2018 Farm Bill?
Until the USDA regulation is finalized and published in the Federal Register, research and development initiatives authorized in the 2014 Farm Bill remain in effect.
Question 7: How can groups and individuals learn more about activities related to USDA’s development of regulations for the commercial production of hemp?
USDA has provided additional information on its website and will continue to update resources for both the public and industry. In addition, USDA has scheduled a listening session for March 13, 2019, to provide the public an opportunity to present suggestions on various aspects of the regulations under development.
Question 8: In instances when a state or Indian tribe does not submit a plan to USDA, can individual producers in those states or Indian tribes submit production plans on their own behalf to USDA for consideration?
Yes, if the production of hemp is not otherwise prohibited by the state or Indian tribe, the 2018 Farm Bill authorizes USDA to accept production plans from individual producers in the process of licensing them to operate according to future regulations. In those instances, individual producers would be subject to a plan established by the federal government. USDA encourages individual producers to engage with their state agency or Tribal government prior to submitting individual plans to USDA to avoid duplicate submissions.
The Food and Drug Administration will hold its first public hearings on CBD in April as the agency weighs rules allowing companies to add the popular cannabis-based compound to food, Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Wednesday. “We’re deeply focused on this. We have taken on other hard challenges before,” Gottlieb told the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday. “You have my commitment I’m focused on this one.” Gottlieb said he has heard Congress “loud and clear” when it legalized hemp products, including CBD, in December and is putting together a working group of senior officials to work on the new rules. The FDA will kick off its rulemaking process with a public hearing in April, he said. However, Gottlieb warned the committee that it will not be a “straightforward” process.