Question 1: Why is the Department of Agriculture building a marketing program for the commercial production of hemp in the United States?
The 2018 Farm Bill (the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018) directed USDA to develop a program by which it will review and approve plans submitted by each state, territory and Indian tribal agency outlining their production of hemp for commercial uses.
Question 2: What is the purpose of the production plans?
Each state, territory and tribal agency’s plan will provide details on practices and procedures that enable hemp producers in their jurisdiction to operate according to their individual plan and in compliance with federal laws.
Question 3: Who can submit production plans to USDA for consideration?
The 2018 Farm Bill authorizes state departments of agriculture, including agencies representing the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, any other territory or possession of the United States, and Indian tribal governments, to submit plans to USDA for consideration.
Question 4: May state or Tribal Nations submit plans now to the USDA for review and approval?
It is USDA’s intention to issue regulations in the Fall of 2019 to accommodate the 2020 planting season. Should a state or Tribal nation submit a plan before that time, USDA will not review or approve such plan until regulations have been implemented.
Question 5: What should each plan include?
As required by Sec. 297B of the Farm Bill, each plan must describe: (1) a practice to maintain relevant information regarding land on which hemp is produced in the state or territory of the Indian tribe; (2) a procedure for testing, using post-decarboxylation or other similarly reliable methods, delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration to ensure levels are not more than .3% on a dry matter basis in hemp produced in the state or territory of the Indian tribe; (3) a procedure for the effective disposal of plants and products produced in violation of this subtitle; (4) a procedure to comply with law enforcement procedures; (5) a procedure for conducting annual inspections of hemp producers; (6) a procedure for submitting information on hemp producers to USDA; and (7) a certification that the state or Indian tribe has the resources and personnel to carry out the practices and procedures described above.
Question 6: How should state, territory and Indian tribal agencies submit their plans to USDA?
USDA accepts plans via email or postal mail. State departments of agriculture, including agencies representing the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, any other territory or possession of the United States, and Indian tribal governments, may submit their plans to the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Specialty Crops Program using:
Specialty Crops Program
USDA Agricultural Marketing Service
1400 Independence Avenue SW
Room 2077-S, Stop 0235
Washington, D.C. 20250-0235
Question 7: When can growers begin planting hemp in compliance with the authorities of the 2018 Farm Bill?
Until the USDA regulation is finalized and published in the Federal Register, research and development initiatives authorized in the 2014 Farm Bill remain in effect.
Question 8: How can groups and individuals learn more about activities related to USDA’s development of regulations for the commercial production of hemp?
USDA has provided additional information on its website and will continue to update resources for both the public and industry. In addition, USDA has scheduled a listening session for March 13, 2019, to provide the public an opportunity to present suggestions on various aspects of the regulations under development.
Question 9: In instances when a state or Indian tribe does not submit a plan to USDA, can individual producers in those states or Indian tribes submit production plans on their own behalf to USDA for consideration?
Yes, if the production of hemp is not otherwise prohibited by the state or Indian tribe, the 2018 Farm Bill authorizes USDA to accept production plans from individual producers in the process of licensing them to operate according to future regulations. In those instances, individual producers would be subject to a plan established by the federal government. USDA encourages individual producers to engage with their state agency or Tribal government prior to submitting individual plans to USDA to avoid duplicate submissions.
Question 10: Once USDA publishes regulations for the production of hemp, may a state or tribal nation initially use the USDA hemp production plan and later submit their own plan for approval and use.
Yes. States and tribal nations may use the USDA plan initially and then, at some later date, submit their own plan to USDA for approval to begin their own oversight of hemp production.