In a surprise move, the USDA has reopened the comment period for the domestic hemp production. This is really great news for hemp farmers, as the proposed USDA regulations are very restrictive, and make production of hemp difficult, and in some cases, impossible. Comments are due by October 8, 2020.
The proposed USDA regulations impose several limits that make growing hemp risky and/or expensive. By reopening the comment period, the USDA is opening the possibility that more reasonable rules can be written. A few of the proposed rules are:
- Growers must test their crops no more than 15 days from harvest
- Growers who test over .5% THC are considered negligent, and 3 negligent tests bans the grower from the program for 5 years.
- The grower is largely not in control of the THC levels in a plant. Weather conditions, watering cycles, or stress on the plant all can increase the THC above .5%. This limit is very low, and very easy to exceed for even the most diligent grower.
- Samples must be taken from the top of the flowering bud
- This increases the chance of a “hot” test, because most of the THC is in the top part of the flower, but the entire plant is used for biomass extraction, which dilutes the THC content in the plant overall.
- Crops that test “hot” must be destroyed immediately. There is no retesting, or remediation allowed.
- This exposes farmers to quite a bit of financial risk, as the crop can be over the limit through no fault of their own, and then they lose the entire crop.
Poplar Creek Farms will be submitting comments to the USDA, and we encourage any other hemp growers to do the same. Obviously the USDA has heard enough response to reopen the comment period, so we need to take advantage of this rare opportunity to provide more feedback.
This article from Marijuana Moment reports that several Senators are supportive of easing the restrictions of the USDA, FDA, and DEA. Chuck Schumer has requested that the new regulations be pushed back to 2022 due to the Covid outbreak, to give farmers some relief in the face of a reduced economy.
In anticipation of the new USDA rules, Poplar Creek Farms has temporarily shut down 100% of our growing facilities, because there is a lot of uncertainty about how the new regulations will be implemented. Also, the varieties that most hemp farmers grow will be noncompliant with the new regulations, so to play it safe we simply didn’t replant after our last harvest. There are other greenhouse and indoor growers who have done the same, because it isn’t clear if a harvest in early November is legal, due to the intricacies of the cutover between the North Carolina Industrial Hemp Pilot Program and the USDA program on October 31. Our plan is to start growing again as soon as the North Carolina Pilot Program either extends past October 31, or the USDA program becomes official in North Carolina. In the meantime, we have PLENTY of CBD products on-hand, so don’t worry that we will run out of anything!
See the actual announcement from the USDA below:
Date September 04, 2020
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is reopening the comment period to the interim final rule that was published on Oct. 31, 2019 and established the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program. The reopening will provide an additional 30 days for interested persons to comment on the IFR.
All stakeholders are invited to provide comments, especially those who were subject to the regulatory requirements of the IFR during the 2020 production cycle. The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is interested in all additional input for all aspects of the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program, and particularly interested in comments on the following topics:
Measurement of Uncertainty for Sampling
Liquid Chromatography Factor, 0.877
Disposal and Remediation of Non-Compliant Plants
15-day Harvest Window
Hemp seedlings, microgreens, and clones
Hemp breeding and research
Sampling Methodology – Flower vs. Whole Plant
Sampling Methodology – Homogenous Composition, Frequency, and Volume
DEA Laboratory Registration
Notice of this extension is currently available for viewing in the Federal Register and will be published Sept. 8, 2020. Comments must be received by Oct. 8, 2020.
Written comments should be submitted via the Federal eRulemaking portal at www.regulations.gov. Comments may also be sent via email to [email protected] or sent by postal mail to USDA/AMS/Specialty Crops Program Hemp Branch, 470 L’Enfant Plaza SW, PO Box 23192, Washington DC 20026.
More information about the provisions of the interim final rule is available on AMS’s Hemp Production webpage.
This information is from the USDA website link here.