Hemp rules in USA to be released in August, USDA says

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) said it will introduce federal hemp rules in August, speeding up the release from previous plans to roll out the guidelines next year.

The announcement comes as farmers and processors across the U.S. are in full swing with their 2019 production.

The USDA rules making is a next step in developing the legal framework for hemp after its legalization as a farm crop under provisions of the 2018 Farm Bill. That framework must be followed by individual states as they set local hemp laws.

The USDA has indicated that the regulations will address such things as land usage, standards for testing, disposal, law enforcement compliance, inspections, and certification for both products and industry workers.

States moving ahead

Pushed by hemp stakeholders, many states are champing at the bit to set up legislation, with some state lawmaking bodies already working on such laws. In some cases, those schemes may have to be adjusted once the USDA’s federal rules are issued. 

And stakeholders may likewise be scrambling this autumn to meet any restrictions on processing under USDA rules now planned to come out in the middle of this year’s harvesting season.

The advanced timetable for issuing USDA rules was announced in a recently published notice in the U.S. Federal Register.

Fears market could overheat

Meanwhile U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, the USDA’s head, recently said he fears the market for hemp may get overheated once his Department’s rules are in place. Noting that hemp has gained “a lot of interest nationwide,” Perdue added: “I’m concerned they may overproduce like they do a lot of things in that way and the price may go down.”

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