USDA official touts hemp rules as ‘fair, consistent, science-based’

A top official with the U.S. Department of Agriculture praised the agency’s work on hemp this week, putting into doubt any plans to make additional changes.

Sonia Jimenez, deputy administrator for the Specialty Crops Program in the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, talked up the rules in a newsletter the agency sends to farmers.

“The work covered three comment periods and a fair, consistent, science-based process for states, tribes and individual producers,” Jimenez said in the newsletter.

She made no mention of revisiting the hemp rules. Some in the hemp industry are hoping the agency considers a fourth public-comment period and makes additional changes, especially on testing protocols.

President Joe Biden’s chief of staff informed all federal agencies last week to consider pausing any new rules for additional review; the USDA hemp rule was published a day ahead of that memo and is scheduled to take effect in March.

The USDA has said the hemp final rules aren’t on hold, but that the agency is reviewing all programs implemented by the previous administration, as is common when there is a new president.

Learn more about how the USDA’s final rule differs from the interim rule by downloading Hemp Industry Daily’s special report, “USDA Final Hemp Rule: A Handbook for Hemp & CBD Businesses” here.