USDA announces establishment of U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program

By Dave Russell, Ohio Ag Net

The interim final rule formalizing the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program was published in the Federal Register in late October, allowing hemp to be grown under federally-approved plans. Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Marketing and Regulatory Programs, Greg Ibach said the interim rule includes a number of provisions for USDA to approve plans developed by states.

“This includes provisions for tracking the land where hemp is grown, procedures for testing the concentration levels of TCH, procedures for disposing of non-compliant plants, compliance provisions on how to handle violations as a result of inspections on farms, and procedures to share information with law enforcement,” Ibach said. “We are also going to make sure that states that have programs have resources available to manage those plants.”

The new hemp rule enables the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service and Risk Management Agency to determine which USDA programs hemp growers are eligible, including loans and crop insurance.

“FSA is developing loan programs for hemp producers, which will be available on a limited basis. We are talking about establishing operating ownership, beginning farmer and on-farm storage loans for this next year. Many hemp producers will also be able to buy non-insured crop disaster assistance, which is offered through FSA,” said Bill Northey USDA Under Secretary. “This will essentially give them insurance coverage in the event of adverse weather. That will be established this next year and will be available where crop insurance is not available. To take advantage of these programs, hemp producers will have to file an acreage report with FSA. That is typically done after spring plantings are complete, likely late spring or next summer.”

These programs will be available beginning with the 2020 crop year. This rule is effective Oct. 31, 2019 through Nov. 1, 2021. Public comments on the rule received by December 30, 2019 will be considered prior to issuance of a final rule.

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