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USDA Approves Hemp Plans For Florida, Kansas And Three Indian Tribes

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on Thursday that it has approved two additional state hemp regulatory plans, as well as three more tribal proposals.

Florida and Kansas are the latest states to have their plans federally accepted, raising the number of state approvals so far to 16. The Blackfeet Nation, the Cayuga Nation and the Sac & Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa also had their plans signed off on.

USDA has been accepting plans on a rolling basis since hemp and its derivatives were federally legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill. Last month, South Carolina and West Virginia joined the list of states where proposed regulations for the crop were approved.

“After months of incorporating feedback from the public, growers, and industry stakeholders, we are thrilled that Florida’s hemp industry officially begins now,” Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said in a press release. ” I thank the USDA for their swift review and approval of our state hemp program.”

“By working closely with our farmers, processors, retailers, and consumers, Florida’s state hemp program will become a model for the nation, will set a gold standard for this emerging industry, and will create billions in economic opportunity for Florida,” she said. “As our economy deals with the impacts of COVID-19, this approval will give our agriculture industry a new alternative crop for many years to come.”

Jeff Ochampaugh of the Kansas Department of Agriculture said in a release that the development is “great news for Kansas, as it moves us one step closer to establishing a commercial program for industrial hemp.” He added that it’s “important for Kansans to understand, though, that our program won’t be active until the regulations are adopted.”

USDA said in a notice that it “continues to receive and review hemp production plans from states and Indian tribes.”

While the agency released an interim final rule for a domestic hemp production program last year, industry stakeholders and lawmakers have expressed concerns about certain policies it views as excessively restrictive.

The department announced in February that it will temporarily lift two provisions that the industry viewed as problematic. Those policies primarily concern testing and disposal requirements. The department declined to revise the THC limit, however, arguing that it’s a statutory matter that can’t be dealt with administratively.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has said on several occasions that the Drug Enforcement Administration influenced certain rules, adding that the narcotics agency wasn’t pleased with the overall legalization of hemp.

Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is still in the process of developing regulations for CBD. It sent an update on its progress to Congress last month, explaining that the agency is actively exploring pathways to allow for the marketing of the cannabis compound as a dietary supplement and is developing enforcement discretion guidance.

An FDA public comment period was reopened indefinitely for individuals to submit feedback on CBD regulations.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, hemp industry associations sent a letter to the head of the federal Small Business Administration (SBA) on Monday, urging the agency to extend access to certain COVID-19 relief loans to farmers who cultivate the crop.

Hemp Groups Push Federal Agency To Include Farmers In Coronavirus Relief Effort

Photo courtesy of Brendan Cleak.

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