SENATE SPENDING BILL URGES AMENDMENTS TO USDA IFR
Last week, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture passed out of Committee a proposed spending bill that includes key sections relating to hemp! Senator Jeff Merkley a great ally to the hemp industry in Oregon and nationally, who serves as head Democrat of the Senate Appropriations Committee subcommittee on agriculture, sent out a press release with the news.
As a result of the Agricultural Hemp Solutions Crossroads Campaign’s advocacy efforts and collaboration with Senator Merkley, the proposed bill provides an extension of the 2014 Farm Bill until January 2022 (Sec. 768), and calls on USDA to amend the IFR so the final rule is based on science and ensures a reasonable regulatory framework for commercial hemp producers.
The Committee report language specifically provides:
“The Committee is concerned that the interim final rule…creates roadblocks for farmers by requiring an unrealistic timeframe for testing, the use of Drug Enforcement Administration registered laboratories, the conversion of THCA into THC, a sampling of only flowering tops, and an arbitrary negligence threshold of 0.5 percent.”
“the Committee encourages the Secretary to utilize current Agricultural Research Service research to revise the hemp sampling and testing protocols”
Additionally, the bill provides $2 million for USDA to conduct regionally-driven research, development, and stakeholder engagement to improve understanding of how to effectively integrate hemp into existing agricultural cropping, processing, and marketing systems.
Other key provisions of the proposed spending bill:
Encourages the USDA to study the usage and impact of energy and water in hemp cultivation and to make recommendations on best practices and standards;
Directs the agency to establish and maintain a hemp germplasm repository for hemp breeding purposes; and
Directs the USDA to work with institutions under its jurisdiction to provide access to guaranteed loans for hemp producers and businesses.
Senator Merkley’s press release quotes our Founding Principal:
“Securing an extension of the 2014 Farm Bill authority until January 202 will help farmers and state departments of agriculture transition smoothly to the 2018 Farm Bill and USDA program rules, saving farmers from an abrupt change in regulation mid-production season.
Additionally, allocating much-needed funding to USDA for implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill and targeted research and development efforts to integrate hemp into traditional agricultural systems will further establish hemp as a true agricultural commodity.”
~ Courtney N. Moran, LL.M.
Negotiations are currently underway for merging with a counterpart bill from the House. The bill does still need to be passed by both the House and Senate, but this is a positive step in our favor! A spending bill needs to pass by December 11, to keep the government funded.
To add your input and influence to the process, contact the AgHS Crossroads Campaign: firstname.lastname@example.org.