This week, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued its interim final rule on the establishment of a domestic hemp production program. The rule will be effective when published in the Federal Register, which is expected to occur on Thursday, October 31, 2019. It is intended to be effective for two years and then be replaced with a final rule. The rule outlines provisions for USDA to approve plans submitted by States and Native American tribes for the US domestic production of hemp. It also establishes a Federal plan for producers in States or territories of Native American tribes where hemp production is legal and that do not have their own USDA-approved plan. The program includes provisions for maintaining information on the land where hemp is produced, testing the levels of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, disposing of plants not meeting necessary requirements, licensing requirements and ensuring compliance with the requirements of the rule.

While the rule has an agricultural focus (clarifying the landscape for growers of industrial hemp), and does not attempt to regulate processed hemp products (such as CBD derived from hemp) or products otherwise under FDA jurisdiction, its issuance should provide some needed clarity to the agricultural supply chain. We expect that industry will provide USDA significant feedback on these interim regulations over the coming months. Please feel free to contact us with any questions.