USDA Extends Hemp Rules Comment Period By 30 Days

Players in the hemp sector could finally heave a sigh of relief after the U.S. Department of Agriculture released the much-awaited interim final rule on hemp this October. Published in the Federal Register on October 31, the rule established a domestic hemp production program authorized by the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, also known as the Farm Bill.

When the 2018 Farm Bill legalized industrial hemp and its extracts last year, the market for hemp and hemp-derived CBD exploded. By the end of 2018, the CBD market was worth at least $8 billion, and it’s expected to hit $20 billion by 2026. However, there was one drawback to such swift growth.

Regulatory authorities were stuck playing catch up, resulting in an unregulated industry teeming with thousands of untested products each claiming untold medical benefits, which was very unsafe for consumers. On top of that, essential service providers avoided working with hemp growers fearing repercussions from law enforcement.

Unfortunately, the USDA’s interim final rule wasn’t the Hail Mary many thought it would be. Complaints abound that the regulations laid out by the USDA for the budding hemp sector are too stringent, and they may bring the industry down before it can truly soar.

When the interim rule was published, the USDA granted stakeholders a comment period to offer their own opinions on the new hemp rules. In a bid to get more feedback, the agency has announced that the comment period on its interim final hemp rule has been extended by 30 days to January 29.

Scott Propheter, Vice President of Agronomy and Outreach at Criticality, a North Carolina based hemp and CBD producer, urges growers to take advantage of this extension and reach out to their state agriculture departments and members of Congress.

“The USDA is going to be working directly with state regulators on this, so the more growers are involved with their state departments of agriculture the better off we’re going to be,” he says.

He adds that state regulators are on the growers’ side, even if it doesn’t always seem so. The interim final rule on hemp puts the burden on both growers and the state, and regulators want to work closely with growers to find the best solution to an increasingly complex issue.

Ben Marcus co-owns Sheepscot General Store and Farm, a farm and retailer in Whitefield, and he agreed stating that his state regulators have been invaluable in sharing insights.

“They’re not just going to test people’s crops to make sure everybody’s in compliance, but they’re helping us to understand the tumultuous political process that this is going through right now.”

He encourages farmers all across the country to reach out to their state lawmakers. “We don’t work for them, they work for us, so use them.”

This extension of the comments period is likely to be welcome news to hemp industry players like Dama Financial and Lexaria Bioscience Corp. (CSE: LXX) (OTCQX: LXRP) who see it as an opportunity for a lot more people to voice their concerns regarding the interim hemp rules.

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