• As our readers know, the 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act and assigned regulation of hemp production to the states with oversight by USDA. The spring Unified Agenda, released in May 2019, indicated that the hemp production rule was to be released as an interim final rule in August. USDA previously stated that it planned to issue the regulations in late 2019, before the 2020 planting season. USDA has not yet released the regulations.
  • States are anxiously awaiting AMS’s regulations. In a March 2019 webinar and listening session hosted by USDA, several stakeholders expressed concerns about a number of items, including enforcement, reporting regulations, and import requirements for inputs like hemp seed. The Governor of Maine and the Maine Agricultural Commissioner wrote a joint letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue requesting timely action on the regulations and advising him of the regulatory uncertainty’s effects on farmers, agricultural lenders, and insurers.
  • Most recently, at the October 17, 2019 hearing before the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, Stephen Censky, Deputy Secretary at the USDA, affirmed that AMS planned to publish the rules soon, and, noted he expects the interim final rule will be available for public comment “within the next couple of weeks.”
  • Despite the delay in releasing the hemp production rule, states have already begun submitting industrial hemp production plans to USDA. Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Wyoming are among the states that have submitted plans. Other states, including California, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, and Texas, have plans to submit after USDA promulgates the federal regulations. States that prohibit the production of hemp, including Idaho, South Dakota, Mississippi, and the District of Columbia, are not expected to submit plans to USDA. Even though the 2018 Farm Bill requires AMS to approve or disapprove state plans within 60 days of receiving them, AMS has indicated that it will not review the plans until their final rule is in place.