Schumer, other legislators seek USDA delays on hemp rules

Schumer, other legislators seek USDA delays on hemp rules

The federal government has struggled to come to grips with how best to incorporate hemp crops in the course of normal agricultural activities, but unprecedented happenings seem to have thrown a wrench in the current arrangement.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has recently drawn ire and criticism from those in the hemp industry who rely on clear rules to do their business. In the time since the 2018 legalization of industrial hemp those rules have been half-measures, bandages and short-sighted fixes that are now showing they may have outlived their utility.

USDA officials have received hemp-growing plans from 20 states that are looking to solidify new plans, seeing as many hemp producing states are using out-of-date hemp rules from 2014 which expire this fall, Hemp Industry Daily reports.

“These are things that do not take a legislative fix, but they are things that could be addressed through rule-making. So it’s very important that collectively we are conveying our concerns,” Courtney Moran, chief legislative director for Agricultural Hemp Solutions, told Hemp Industry Daily.

Now, the hopes for a reform at the USDA seems to have been postponed thank the utter chaos unleashed due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Colorado, for instance, just received notice that its state-level hemp regulation proposal would have to wait until the USDA decided on its own complete policy, a measure Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer and other legislators said may need to wait.

"The Colorado state hemp plan has not been rejected. USDA has reviewed the draft Colorado hemp plan, provided edits and is continuing to work with Colorado state officials,” a USDA official told Westword.

Schumer did not state he was explicitly against hemp reforms at the USDA, but the difficulties presented by the pandemic mean the legislature is far less likely to come to a reasonable plan to reform the guidance soon.

“Regulating this rapidly-emerging industry is a must, but the timing of new regulations is important and the current economic crisis must be considered,” Schumer told HID.

The news source claimed that compliance costs are mounting for entrepreneurs and farmers hoping to appease the federal regulations.

Much of this cost is due to the fact that industrial hemp must be tested to ensure THC levels are below the legal maximum.

Industry farmers spend as much as $17,000 on USDA compliance, while the testing alone can cost $700 for each sample, Hemp Industry Daily says.