WASHINGTON D.C. — The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Oct. 29 launched the US Domestic Hemp Production Program to establish a fair and consistent regulatory space for farmers to begin hemp production across the country.

The interim final rule establishing the program, which was mandated by the 2018 Farm Bill, will become effective later this week after being published in the federal register, said US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

The interim final rule includes policies, procedures and regulations for licensing requirements, access to loans and risk management tools, and testing procedures “to ensure that hemp grown under this program is hemp, and nothing else,” Perdue added. These testing procedures include checking levels of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol and the disposal of inadequate plants.

“We said we’d get it done in time for producers to make planning decisions for 2020, and we followed through,” Perdue said. “We have our teams operating with all hands on deck to develop a regulatory framework that meets Congressional intent, while seeking to provide a fair, consistent and science-based process for states, tribes and individual producers who want to participate in this program.”

States, tribes and individual growers are all eligible to grow hemp under the program, as long as they are licensed and follow the interim final rule.

“At USDA, we’re always excited when there are new economic opportunities for our farmers, and we hope the ability to grow hemp will pave the way for new products and markets. But I encourage all producers to take the time to fully educate themselves on the processes, requirements and risks that come with any market or product before entering this new frontier,” Perdue said.

Other documents regarding the US Domestic Hemp Production Program can be found on the USDA website, including guidelines and public comments, information for hemp testing labs, and the draft version of the interim final rule.

Perdue said the USDA will monitor public feedback and release additional resources for education and compliance as the program is rolled out.

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