AFBF Urges Improvements to Hemp Regulation

Brian German Agri-Business, Regulation

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) recently submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) calling for changes to hemp regulation.  The Interim Final Regulations on Establishment of a Domestic Hemp Production Program was submitted last October, detailing the parameters for production. The comments submitted to USDA highlight several issues that the farming community is concerned about with the rules regulating hemp.

hemp regulation

At AFBF’s annual conference farmers and ranchers voted in favor of pushing for increasing the acceptable level of THC in hemp up to one percent.  The current allowable THC limit established by USDA is 0.3 percent. There is also a concern in regard to the number of testing facilities currently certified by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).  The USDA requires that THC testing be performed by one of the 4 DEA-certified facilities located in 22 states.  With the significant interest in the crop, there is concern about getting tests performed in a timely manner or unknowingly transporting potentially ‘hot crops’ with THC levels above the allowable threshold across state lines.

The comments submitted by AFBF also highlight other issues related to hemp testing.  The USDA rule dictates that samples that are to be used for THC testing must be collected within 15 days of the expected harvest date.  AFBF notes that the 15-day window is overly burdensome and costly for farmers.  If harvest cannot be completed in that testing window, farmers could wind up losing their entire crop.  The lack of testing facilities also creates concern for potential delays for farmers to receive test results.  AFBF suggests extending the testing window to 45 days to allow farmers ample time for testing and harvesting.

AFBF is also asking USDA to allow THC testing to take into account the leaf, stem, and flower when determining THC levels.  The Interim Final Rule for hemp regulation requires only the flower to be tested.  In the comments submitted to USDA, AFBF notes that because the entire plant is harvested and used that testing should take the average of the THC level found throughout all parts of the plant.

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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West