Colorado Republican joins calls for USDA hemp delay

Colorado Republican Cory Gardner is the latest U.S. senator calling for a delay on implementation of federal hemp regulations overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Gardner, who represents the nation’s No. 1 hemp-producing state by licensed acreage, told USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue in a letter that the proposed rule “seriously undermines this burgeoning industry.”

The USDA’s proposed regulatory framework is scheduled to take effect Nov. 1. But a growing number of states and politicians say the rules should be delayed until 2021 or modified to ease farmer oversight.

Gardner cited the coronavirus pandemic in his call for the USDA to loosen or delay its restrictions on hemp production.

“Given these challenges, it is hard to overlook the great promise that the industrial hemp industry could provide to farmers if regulation is done in the proper manner,” he wrote.

Gardner becomes the fourth senator, and first Republican, to suggest a delay, but the agency has not given any indication that it will comply with the requests.