March 29, 2021
MORE Good News (x2) from DC
Because of YOUR advocacy, we’ve been sharing a lot of good news for hemp recently from the nation’s capital. Today, we are excited to share two more developments to celebrate:
1. In-Process Hemp Extract
Today, two very powerful and influential congressional committee chairs sent a letter urging Attorney General Merrick Garland and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to take concrete steps to protect the transport, sale and distribution of in-process hemp extract. Last fall, the DEA issued a controversial Interim Final Rule, which among other things, purported to criminalize in-process hemp extract when it temporarily exceeds 0.3% delta-9 THC. This sparked considerable angst in the industry; more than 3000 commenters answered the Roundtable’s call to protest the new rule, and our friends at the Hemp Industries Association filed two federal lawsuits to challenge the rule in court. The Roundtable also petitioned Congress, and with the capable help of our Board member Pyxus, we were able to secure report language in last year’s omnibus spending bill that urged the USDA to take jurisdiction over this issue and protect in-process hemp extract.
Now with the new Biden Administration in place, another important step was taken. Again, with the advice and counsel of the Roundtable and Pyxus, two leading congressional committee chairs – House Agriculture Chair David Scott and House Agriculture Appropriations Chair Sanford Bishop – sent this strong letter to Attorney General Garland and USDA Secretary Vilsack, urging them to meet with the hemp industry and develop a concrete plan to protect in-process hemp extract.
2. Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act
We are thrilled to report that the USDA is taking very seriously the mandates of the recently passed Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act, discussed here at length. More than $5 billion will be awarded to farmers of color across the nation, assisting them with pandemic relief, and helping redress centuries of discrimination.
USDA Secretary Vilsack recently testified:“I want to provide you, Mr. Chairman, and members of this committee a single and solemn commitment from me, from the team at USDA, that we will over the next four years, do everything we can to root out whatever systemic racism and barriers may exist at the department of agriculture directed to Black farmers, socially disadvantaged farmers, people who live in consistently poor areas of rural America.”
As an organization committed to justice and equity in the hemp industry, we were proud to play a small role in its passage, and we will continue to share our counsel with the USDA on its implementation.