USDA offers first guidance on hemp program03.05.19
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued its first set of guidance relating to hemp production, under the recently-passed 2018 Farm Bill. As we previously blogged, the 2018 Farm Bill empowered the USDA to issue regulations and guidance to implement a program for the commercial production of industrial hemp in the United States.
The USDA’s guidance provided a high-level overview of the department’s plans for its hemp production program and a set of questions and answers addressing the program, specifically, the production plans each state, territory and Indian tribal agency is allowed to submit under the Farm Bill of 2018. We understand that Tennessee is one of a handful of states that have submitted production plans, so we believe that this guidance is intended to spur the other states, territories and tribes to follow Tennessee’s lead.
The guidance reiterates the 2018 Farm Bill’s provisions that allow the USDA to establish a plan for those states, territories or tribes that do not submit their own production plan, including the ability to accept plans from individual producers in states where such submission is not otherwise prohibited. The guidance also indicates that the USDA intends to issue rules and regulations later this year, to accommodate the 2020 growing season. That rulemaking will follow the typical administrative law pathway, with the publishing of a proposed rule or rules, comment period and a final rule or set of rules.
Finally, the guidance announces that the USDA will hold a webinar listening session on March 13, 2019, that will be open to the general public.