As you may recall from here, the USDA is actively soliciting public input as it develops regulations pursuant to the 2018 Farm Bill.
Today, for the first time, the USDA took their listening tour on the road, and held a session in Louisville, KY, featuring Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach and Risk Management Agency (RMA) Administrator Martin Barbre. Hosted by hemp heroes Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, the USDA officials heard directly from hemp farmers, processors and manufacturers…and Roundtable General Counsel Jonathan Miller.
Jonathan’s message focused on the big issues that face the hemp industry in the aftermath of the demise of Hemp Prohibition:
- As USDA develops its regulations in time for the 2020 growing season, it is essential that there be uniformity, replacing the current patchwork of fifty different state laws. Key to uniformity are consistent testing standards, seed certification/registration, and transportation regulations.
- Even though we await USDA regulations later this year, we need USDA’s to help clarify that the underlying law has already changed. Hemp is legal NOW; it is no longer considered a controlled substance; and we don’t need to wait for USDA regs to engage in hemp commerce or transport hemp products. We need to enlist the USDA to comfort financial institutions that they can transact business NOW with hemp companies, and to remind law enforcement that they cannot interfere with the interstate transport of hemp or hemp products.
- It’s also time NOW for the USDA to open up its grant and research and development dollars to hemp business and innovation.
- The hemp industry stands willing to be a full partner in the regulatory future, and the USDA should rely on the US Hemp Authority to provide high standards, best practices and self-regulation to assure consumers that hemp products are safe and give law enforcement confidence that hemp products are legal.
See excerpts of Jonathan’s testimony below: