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Industry reps and legislators call for Farm Bill delay

Industry reps and legislators call for Farm Bill delay

Hemp rules in the Farm Bill shouldn’t be implemented until 2022 to protect the sector, one senator said

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

Ag industry reps and some U.S. lawmakers are asking the federal government to delay the implementation of one section of the 2018 Farm Bill to help hemp growers.

The U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program Interim Final Rule (IFR), in effect from Oct. 31, 2019 to Nov. 1, 2021, outlined that hemp production rules written in the 2014 Farm Bill would expire on Oct. 31, 2020. That date, the rules from the 2018 Farm Bill would take hold.

Many states won’t be able to transition in time because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These states have cited that, due to the unprecedented national COVID-19 pandemic, state regulators have been unable to work with their state legislatures to acquire necessary statutory amendments,” the National Industrial Hemp Council and National Association of State Departments of Agriculture said in an Aug. 5 letter to members of the House Agriculture Appropriations Committee.

Delaying the rules would allow farmers to continue growing hemp under 2014 Farm Bill regulations.

Producers would need to invest thousands of dollars to comply with the rules set out in the 2018 Farm Bill.

Hemp farmers would spend around $17,000 each, and testing for THC or CBD could add more than $700 to the cost of one sample, USDA calculations say.

Delaying the enactment of the 2018 Farm Bill’s hemp rules to 2022 would give producers more flexibility, said Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

Waiting two years would ensure “the hemp industry across the country and in Upstate New York has a chance to grow and create good-paying jobs at a time when jobs are needed the most,” he said in an Aug. 7 statement. “Delaying new regulations will help pull New York along in the recovery process as the nation deals with the impacts of the pandemic.”

Schumer isn’t the only U.S. senator to ask for an extension of the rules surrounding hemp cultivation.

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Democratic Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley have also written letters to Congress asking for delays.

Farms.com has reached out to industry groups for comment.

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