Who is in charge of hemp policy in the Trump administration?

Vote Hemp Newsletter - March 6, 2020


  • Testimony of USDA Secretary begs the question, who is in charge of hemp policy?
  • Vote Hemp releases 2020 California Hemp Report
  • USDA approves crop insurance, deadline to apply is March 16
  • NASDA adopts new hemp policies at Winter Policy Conference
  • USDA Economic Research Service releases economic viability report

On Wednesday USDA Secretary Perdue testified before the House Agriculture Committee. He was asked about challenges with the THC testing provisions of the Interim Final Rule (IFR) by Rep. Lawson (D-FL). Perdue explained that USDA was attempting to make changes to improve the IFR but testing limitations had “a lot of impact from DEA and the Interagency” which were constraining USDA.

“There’s been some relaxation recently… this Interim Final Rule, we didn’t get it nailed right in the bullseye and we tried to make some corrections there and OMB has allowed us to do that, frankly the testing and the limitations had a lot of impact from DEA and the Interagency and they were not excited about the crop as a whole anyway and we had some pretty serious constraints so were trying to address the lab issue which was a real limitation.
USDA Secretary Perdue, House Ag. Committee testimony 3/4/2020


USDA did announce some positive changes last week, relaxing rules on disposal of hot hemp crops and delaying the enforcement of the requirement that testing labs be registered with the DEA. We welcome these changes and hope that USDA will use its authority to provide more flexibility to hemp producers and state regulators.

However, after listening to Purdue’s testimony, were wondering why officials in the Drug Czar’s office and DEA are having so much influence on hemp farming regulations and why USDA is unable to regulate as they see best and were authorized by Congress to do?

The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and transferred the regulatory authority for hemp production to USDA. The 2018 Farm Bill only required that USDA consult with the Attorney General, not that they defer to other agencies or policy advisors on final decisions about how hemp producers should be regulated. We sincerely hope that USDA will continue to work with the industry and state regulators to implement some of the reasonable recommendations submitted to improve the IFR rather than allowing those in the administration who are opposed to hemp to dictate portions of the regulations that will hamper the success of farmers.


Vote Hemp releases 2020 California Hemp Report

2020 California Hemp ReportVote Hemp has been working to bring back hemp farming in California since 2002. We have sponsored key legislation including recent bills to ensure that farmers could grow for biomass (SB 1409) and to improve regulations (SB 153).

California is the only state where counties have a role in regulation and licensure. It has created a complex web of regulations for California farmers. Vote Hemp has been monitoring hemp regulations and moratoria in all 58 counties which has been extensive. If you are considering getting into the hemp market in California, the data and insights in this 25 page report will be very valuable. The report includes:

  • Exclusive hemp updates on all 58 counties including moratoriums & zoning restrictions
  • California hemp market insights including seed vendors
  • Contact info for county Ag. Commissioners
  • An informative history of hemp legislation in California
  • Includes the national Vote Hemp 2019 Licensing Report

To order your copy, donate $50 or more and we will mail it out within 5 business days.


USDA announces details of hemp crop insurance, deadline is March 16

The USDA has announced the availability of two programs that protect hemp producers’ crops from natural disasters. A pilot hemp insurance program through Multi-Peril Crop Insurance (MPCI) provides coverage against loss of yield because of insurable causes of loss for hemp grown for fiber, grain or Cannabidiol (CBD) oil and the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) coverage protects against losses associated with lower yields, destroyed crops or prevented planting where no permanent federal crop insurance program is available. Below are some of the requirements of the program.

  • Available in select counties in 21 states
  • Actual Production History (APH) Program 
  • Covers loss of production (pounds) due to naturally occurring causes – adverse weather, fire (lightning), insects, disease, wildlife, earthquake, etc. 
  • Does not cover loss of production due to THC in excess of 0.3% (adjusted for measurement of uncertainty, if provided).
  • Does not cover loss of quality (e.g. CBD content, test weight, etc.).
  • Coverage levels 50% – 75% in 5% increments.
  • Types: CBD, Grain, Fiber
  • Insurability:
    • Insured:
      • Must be licensed.
      • Have a share in the crop.
      • Be eligible for Federal crop insurance.
      • Provide evidence of 1 year of producing the crop in a previous year.
    • Crop:
      • Acreage minimums per type, per county: CBD – 5 acres, Fiber or Grain – 20 acres
      • Must be grown under a processor contract (provisions for vertically integrated operations).
      • Rotation restrictions for hemp following hemp and other crops.
      • Cannot be:
      • Interplanted with another crop.
      • Planted into established grass or legume.
      • Planted after another crop harvested in the same crop year.
      • Planted after Final Planting Date.

The deadline to sign up for both programs is March 16, 2020. More details on the MPCI program can be found on the AgriLogic web site.


NASDA adopts new hemp policies at Winter Policy Conference

At the 2020 Winter Policy Conference of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA), policy items addressing some of the implementation challenges that states have with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Interim Final Rule (IFR) were passed.

Two separate policy items were passed by NASDA Members:

  • policy item requesting USDA to extend the mandatory date of October 31st for states to change from pilot programs to approved USDA plans
  • policy item calling for a hemp data reporting system

NASDA officials also debated and considered a policy proposal from the Vermont delegation to request Congress to increase THC limits for hemp from 0.3% to 1%. This proposal did not receive a 2nd and was not voted on.

NASDA’s organizational hemp policy was also amended to underscore the needs of states in regulating hemp and also called for clarification of federal law that allows hemp-infused products not exceeding federal concentration thresholds to enter interstate commerce. All three actions were complimentary to NASDA’s comments on USDA’s interim final rule on hemp which highlighted 10 major changes to the rule.


USDA Economic Research Service releases economic viability report

The USDA Economic Research Service has released a new report titled “Economic Viability of Industrial Hemp in the United States: A Review of State Pilot Programs”.

After a hiatus of almost 45 years, the Agricultural Act of 2014, Public Law 113-79 (the 2014 Farm Bill) reintroduced industrial hemp production in the United States through State pilot programs. Beginning in 2014, States with laws that allowed growth or cultivation of industrial hemp could establish a pilot program or conduct research on the crop. Production beyond the pilot programs was legalized in the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, Public Law 115-334 (the 2018 Farm Bill). This study documents outcomes and lessons learned from the State pilot programs and examines legal, agronomic, and economic challenges that may affect the transition from the pilot programs to economically viable commercial production.

To access the report, click here.