Last week, lawmakers from Virginia and Maine sent letters to the head of the USDA requesting the agency to make sure that it includes feedback from stakeholders in the changes to be made to the proposed hemp regulations.
The hemp industry has grown tremendously since hemp production was federally legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill; however, the provisions in the USDA interim final rules will place a substantial burden on the growers, wrote Sens. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Mark Warner (D-VA).
The regulations’ amendments will be finalized after the public comments period comes to an end, after it was extended to January 29 from December 30. The Senators are urging the USDA to ensure that they adopt changes suggested by the commenters when finalizing the regulations. Some of the proposed changes include providing more considerable testing duration for hemp by the USDA and allowing non-DEA registered laboratories to perform tests on the crops. They also suggested that the Department raises the maximum level of THC limit stipulated for indusrial hemp.
Another letter that contained similar recommendations was also sent to the USDA. The letter was spearheaed by Rep. Denver Riggleman and signed by all the other members of Congress from Virginia.
The House members wrote in the letter that they appreciate the agency’s commitment to the farmers and agribusinesses in America. They also expressed their gratitude for the agency’s commitment to making the ever-growing hemp sector do so in a safe manner irrespective of the challenges farmers are experiencing, such as low product prices, harsh weather, and violent market fluctuations. They observed that agency needs to provide farmers with clear and reasonable regulatory guidance.
The lawmakers further wrote that they are afraid that the cost of growing hemp would be increased when the current rules are implemented. They also said that the implementation might prohibit farmers from entering the industry, particularly small scale businesses.
Last week, Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Angus King (I-ME) reached out to Sonny Perdue, the USDA Secretary, and expressed their opinions about the draft regulations governing hemp production. They beseeched the agency to consider the recommendations sent in by their states Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry at the beginning of this month.
Reps. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Jared Golden (D-ME), together with the senators, wrote that in Maine, every county grows hemp, with a total of 2,000 cultivated acres in 2019.
They further wrote that hemp provides farmers with an alternative source of income and also boosts the rural economies when farmers are going through difficult economic times.
Hemp businesses have been facing a challenge when accessing financial services because the federal regulations governing hemp are not clear; however, the lawmakers hope that the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act will resolve this challenge.
Experts believe that hemp industry actors, such as Canopy Rivers Inc. (TSX: RIV) (OTC: CNPOF) and Hemptown USA, are hoping that the federal regulatory agency takes the voices of the lamakers and the industry participants they represent seriously, otherwise the hopes of the industry will be dashed by the prohibitive regulations passed.
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