The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill, Section 10113) directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to issue regulations and guidance to implement a program for the commercial production of industrial hemp in the United States. USDA has begun the process to gather information for rulemaking. Once complete, this information will be used to formulate regulations that will include specific details for both federally regulated hemp production and a process for the submission of State, and Indian tribal plans to USDA.
Regulations for States or Tribes who submit plans will include procedures and information collections regarding: land to be used for planting; testing; effective disposal of plants and products; compliance with law enforcement; annual inspections; submission of information to USDA; and certification that resources and personnel are available to carry out the practices and procedures described above. State or Indian tribal nations do not need to submit plans for approval until regulations are in place; however, should a state submit a plan, USDA will hold that submission until regulations have been promulgated. As required by law, USDA is committed to completing its review of plans within 60 days once regulations are effective.
USDA is also required to establish a plan to monitor and regulate the production of hemp in those States or Indian tribes that do not have an approved State or Tribal plan. It is USDA’s intention to issue regulations in the Fall of 2019 to accommodate the 2020 planting season. The rulemaking will provide for the publishing of a proposed rule, comment period, and a final rule.
For the 2019 planting season, the 2018 Farm Bill provides that States, Tribes, and institutions of higher education can continue operating under authorities of the 2014 Farm Bill. USDA provided additional guidance to these programs in the August 2016 multi-agency Statement of Principles on Industrial Hemp (FR 53395). The 2018 Farm Bill extension of the 2014 authority expires 12 months after USDA has established the plan and regulations required under the 2018 Farm Bill.
A Farm Bill listening session on industrial hemp production will occur on March 13, 2019. The listening session will be held in the form of a webinar and will be open to the general public. More details regarding the webinar will be forthcoming.
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