On December 27, the federal Omnibus Spending Bill (Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021) was signed into law, providing an extension of the 2014 Farm Bill to January 1, 2022 (Sec. 782)! The bill also includes protections for the transportation, processing, sale, and use of hemp grown in compliance with the 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills (Ag Sec. 744; CJS Sec. 530). The Agriculture explanatory statement includes a few key directives:
USDA to ensure that any final rule is based on science, is in accordance with underlying law, and will ensure a fair and reasonable regulatory framework for commercial hemp production
Agricultural Research Service and the Land-Grant Universities partnering with the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to utilize current research to guide the hemp sampling and testing protocols
USDA shall develop regulations that protect the transportation, processing, sale, or use of hemp and in-process hemp extract, that may temporarily exceed a delta-9 THC concentration of 0.3%, including in-process hemp extract
Secretary to study the usage and impacts of energy and water in hemp cultivation and controlled environment agriculture and to make recommendations on best practices and standards
Farm Credit Administration (FCA) to work with the institutions under its jurisdiction to provide access to guaranteed loans for hemp producers and businesses.
Commerce, Justice, Science (Division B): DEA has developed field testing kits that can distinguish between hemp and marijuana on-the-spot. DEA is directed to continue to work to ensure State and local law enforcement have access to this field test technology so they can more efficiently conduct their drug interdiction efforts at the local level.
These are welcome developments for the national industrty that will provide hope for a successful 2021 production season.
If you have any questions about this legislation, current program rules, the 2014 Farm Bill extension, or THC compliance requirements and how they may impact your day-to-day business operations, please call or email us to schedule a consultation.