Examining The U.S. Department Of Agriculture's Final Rule For Growing Hemp

This article By Robert Hoban was originally published on Forbes and appears here with permission.

As all Americans know, on January 20, 2021, Joseph Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States. His inauguration came with a slew of nominees, various cabinet-level positions, and agency heads across the entire federal government. While new leadership and new appointments would bring new directions, the departing Trump Administration took one final stab at putting its fingerprints on hemp policy.

On January 15th, six days before the new president took office, the USDA published a final rule for Domestic Hemp Production closing the loop on a two-year process that began with the 2018 Farm Bill. This piece of legislation directed USDA to establish a national regulatory framework for hemp production, which first came in the form of the interim final rule published on October 31, 2019. The final rule published in January of 2021 builds upon and incorporates various modifications, provisions, and concerns raised during the public comment session based on lessons learned during the 2020 production year. Officially effective on March 22nd, American farmers now have final regulations for the production of industrial hemp in the United States.

While the USDA rules serve as a baseline unifying standard regarding programs, various states are presently engaged in negotiations with the USDA for approval of their own industrial hemp farming programs.

States are allowed to enact their own programs based on the 2018 Farm Bill Provisions surrounding industrial hemp, but they must be approved by USDA. There were a number of states that were approved by USDA under the interim rules and the new rule does not change that. However, a number of other states …

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