State agriculture departments ask USDA to extend comment period by 60 days

An association that represents the top officers of the departments of agriculture in all 50 states and four U.S. territories has joined other voices on Capitol Hill in asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for a 60-day extension on submitting public comments about hemp production.

In a letter to federal agriculture officials, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) said the current Dec. 30 deadline for public comment on USDA’s interim final rules is not enough time to get robust feedback from those most impacted by the proposed rules.

The organization said NASDA members are analyzing how they will implement hemp programs for the 2020 growing season and need more time to review the rules, which pose “policy and legal challenges that could significantly impact their growing and processing communities.”

“The current comment period does not allow enough time for stakeholders to gather, analyze and develop comprehensive comments on the interim final rule,” the letter noted.

NASDA asked the agriculture officials for more time to work with states, processors, growers and others to “get this rule right.”

Hemp Industry Daily asked USDA officials about the deadline status but did not immediately hear back.

The organization’s request came a week after Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York urged the USDA to extend the public comment period by 60 days on the interim final rule.

The NASDA also released a hemp report last week in which it said hemp will be a top priority for the organization in 2020, joining the list of priorities that include international trade, food safety and agricultural labor.