USDA: Hemp production rules will be ready by August

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) says it will complete federal rules for domestic hemp production by August.

Although states and tribes began submitting their plans to the USDA for review starting the day after the 2018 Farm Bill was signed in December, the agency said in February it wouldn’t finalize rules until the 2020 growing season.

Under the 2018 Farm Bill, states and tribes that want to run hemp oversight themselves must submit their plans to the USDA, which has up to 60 days to approve or reject the plans. States that don’t submit a plan will be subject to as-yet unwritten federal regulations.

Meanwhile, even where states planned to wait for federal guidance, hemp legislation has moved forward to allow farmers to participate in the 2019 season under the rules of the 2014 Farm Bill.

The USDA hosted two public listening sessions to allow the hemp industry to provide input.

The agency also began rolling out new assistance to the hemp industry, including advice on importing hempseed into the U.S.

And in April, the USDA began taking applications for protecting seed-propagated hemp varieties under the Plant Variety Protection Act of 1970, a law that gives breeders exclusive control over seed- and tuber-propagated varieties.