US finalizing rule to allow farmers to legally grow hemp

Michigan's first hemp crop. (WJRT)
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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- U.S. agriculture officials say a rule that allows farmers to legally grow hemp will be finalized this week.

It's a move that many states have awaited for months so they can begin widespread hemp production.

The rule establishes requirements for licensing, maintaining records on the land where hemp will be grown, testing the levels of the ingredient in marijuana that causes a high, and disposal of plants that don't meet the requirements.

The rule also makes hemp producers eligible for U.S. Department of Agriculture programs, including insurance coverage.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said Tuesday that the USDA will publish an interim final rule Thursday that formalizes the hemp program approved in the 2018 farm bill.

States and Native American tribes can now submit plans for hemp production for USDA approval.

State Senator Patrick Testin has proposed a hemp bill for Wisconsin that has bipartisan support from Governor Tony Evers. He released a statement this afternoon.

Sen. Testin’s Statement on Interim USDA Hemp Rules:

“My goal with hemp legislation has been to give folks confidence at every stage of the industry – from the grower to the consumer – and we want to give people in Wisconsin as much freedom as the federal framework allows. My office is still digging into the 161 page interim rule from Secretary Perdue, but thus far we’ve identified both areas where we agree as well as areas of concern. I believe this rule helps pave the way for our Dept. of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection to certify outside samplers and testers, which would be a positive for Wisconsin. However, I am firmly against their apparent lack of flexibility when it comes to crop reconditioning and the shortened window for field testing. The USDA will still be accepting public comment on this interim rule, and I encourage Wisconsin hemp farmers and processors to share their thoughts and experiences with the federal rule makers. I know the potential that hemp has to create opportunity for farmers and processors across the state, and I’ll continue to work with my colleagues to solidify Wisconsin’s role as a leader in growing and processing this versatile crop.”

Interested persons are invited to submit written comments concerning this rule and the proposed information collection. Comments should be submitted via the Federal eRulemaking portal at www.regulations.gov. Comments may also be filed with Docket Clerk, Marketing Order and Agreement Division, Specialty Crops Program, AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, STOP 0237, Washington, DC 20250-0237; or Fax: (202) 720-8938.