The USDA Updates Hemp Rules After Public Comments

In this post:

  • USDA's Response to Public Comment
  • USDA Farm Programs

The first round of USDA rules on Hemp post after Public comment

On the official USDA site, it states, “The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill) authorized the production of hemp and removed hemp and hemp seeds from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) schedule of Controlled Substances. It also directed the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to issue regulations and guidance to implement a program to create a consistent regulatory framework around production of hemp throughout the United States.”

This is a whole new industry, even though Hemp agriculture was a staple of colonial America, where hemp farming was mandated and even a method of paying taxes. But, in this new century, there are many changes in technology, agri-science, awareness of the greater diversity of the plant, and a greater need for the growth of the infrastructure to utilize the plant in all of its forms and in every different growing climate. General rules, still in development, don’t work when climate and micro-climates can change the nature and proper use of the plant.

USDA's Response to Public Comment

Those long-anticipated rules that were finally posted, in October of 2018, which required a period of public comment. After the January 29, deadline passed, the USDA stated they received 4600 comments from across the country, agreeing with some part and adamantly against others, including the adherence to the .3% limit on Hemp biomass and CBD-from-hemp products.

During the call to reporters, USDA Farm Production and Conservation Undersecretary Bill Northey and Agricultural Marketing Service Administrator Bruce Summers said USDA tried to write the interim rule now in effect to help farmers as much as possible, but that cannot change some of the regulations to which farmers have objected because they are in statute.

In addressing the .3% cap, which garnered the most amount of concern in the public comments, Summers stressed several times that USDA does not have the legal authority to raise the allowed tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9THC), above 0.3% in hemp because that number is written into law. Summers stated that farm groups have proposed raising that level, but they would have to convince Congress to change it.

The .3% marker is based on a low arbitrary number for the European taxonomy of hemp, from a study done in 1947 In practice, especially in warmer climates, it is difficult to maintain that level for many strains, especially ones that were from seed originally growth in higher altitudes and latitudes.

The current law says hemp with a THC level higher than 0.3% must be “disposed of,” but it does not say it has to be destroyed. Summers said he is working on guidance on what “disposed of” means.

Farmers are hoping that it could be sold to legal marijuana markets, but the statute also notes that producers who grow hemp that tests at 0.5% THC are considered “negligent” and risk becoming ineligible to grow the crop. That small margin of error was meant to prevent hemp farmers from purposely growing the federally illegal cannabis strains.

Among other issues brought up but not addressed in the new rules, farmers complained about requirements stating hemp has to be tested for THC within 15 days of harvest. They also questioned whether they could find Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)-approved labs to do the job.

ACS Laboratory is a DEA registered laboratory.

However, Summers said he has some flexibility on sampling and testing requirements and claims he will be issuing guidance on those subjects.

USDA Farm Programs

Along with the new interim rules and the continuing process of approving state-based rules for those states that developed them (Florida is still not approved as of this date), the USDA noted, “The establishment of hemp as a regulated commodity also paves the way for U.S. hemp farmers to participate in other USDA farm programs.

These programs include:

  • Whole-Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP)
  • Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP)
  • NRCS-administered conservation programs, including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Conservation Stewardship Program, Regional Conservation Partnership Program, and Agricultural Conservation Easement Program
  • Farm loans, including operating, ownership, beginning farmer, and farm storage facility

Moving Forward

In this thread of blogs on the topic, we will deconstruct these programs, along with the ups and downs, ins and outs of the USDA rules and how they will affect Florida and the rest of the nation as the program deals with growing pains and regulative learning curves.

We will be posting articles on the various programs and aspects of the new rules, including insurance, loans, conservation and reporting to the USDA. We are travelers in a brave new world, even though we are working with a product that is older than mankind.

And yet, we still have much to learn from each other. With the CBD market dropping in price due to oversupply and the lack of infrastructure for the hurd (wood) and bast (fiber) of the plant, governmental regulations, as well as anxious farmers may help or hinder us as we move forward, but together we can make this work.

ACS Laboratory is the largest ISO/IEC 17025:2017 accredited, DEA registered, CLIA certified hemp/CBD and cannabis testing facility in the Eastern United States. It is a clinical-grade operation that has been continuously refining testing methods for 10+ years. The team at ACS Laboratory is committed to elevating the hemp and cannabis industry by providing a reliable, consistent source of testing.

Watch this short video on the Laboratory.

The Cannabinoids Guide

This complete cannabinoid guide covers major and minor cannabinoids, how they work in the body, and highlights the top compounds brands and operators must test for today.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

The Cannabinoid Guide

The definitive resource on leading major and minor cannabinoids, how they work in the body, and what to test for.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Related Blogs

March 20, 2023

Terpene Tuesdays: Everything You Need to Know About Sabinene Hydrate Flavor, Fragrance, and Benefits

Sabinene Hydrate is a vital component of various plant essential oils, including cannabis. It displays antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial uses.

Elena Schmidt

March 23, 2023

Flavonoid Friday: Everything You Need to Know About Vitexin Flavor, Fragrance, and Benefits

Vitexin fans praise it for everything from benefiting the brain and heart to fighting diabetes and helping maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

Elena Schmidt

March 15, 2023

Understanding Amanita Pantherina Mushrooms: Appearance, Effects, and Legality

The Amanita pantherina, or the Panther Cap, is a relative of the Amanita muscaria mushroom. Its cap features ochre brown dots with white spots. It's a delirium rather than a psychedelic, and it's legal!

Masha Ty

December 16, 2022

Amanita Muscaria (Fly Agaric): History & Toxicology of the Most Misunderstood Mushroom

Amanita mushrooms are fully legal in the United States and have a long history of use. Discovery Amanita mythology and toxicology in this ACS blog.

Masha Ty

January 19, 2023

Amanita Muscaria Part II: Active Ingredients, Effects, Nutrition & Legality

Exploring amanita muscaria’s psychoactive effects, toxic potential, edible preparation, and legality in the US and Canada.

Masha Ty

March 7, 2023

Terpene Tuesdays: Everything You Need to Know About Valencene Flavor, Fragrance, and Benefits

Valencene is a rare terpene found in cannabis. It exudes an herbaceous, sweet citrus aroma with woodsy notes and is abundant in citrus fruits.

Elena Schmidt

January 25, 2023

Comparing Exotic Cannabinoids: Delta-9 THC vs. Delta-8, Delta-10, HHC, HHCP, THC-O (THCOa), & THCP

The main difference between exotic cannabinoids and Delta-9 THC is their molecular structures, psychoactive intensity, and legality.

Elena Schmidt

February 24, 2023

Flavonoid Friday: Everything You Need to Know About Orientin Flavor, Fragrance, and Benefits

Orientin is a flavonoid prevalent in cannabis, bamboo leaves, and various teas is. Its impact as an antioxidant extends into numerous human therapeutic benefits.

Elena Schmidt

February 20, 2023

Terpene Tuesdays: Everything You Need to Know About Ocimene Flavor, Fragrance, and Benefits

As a cannabis terpene, ocimene offers strains potential therapeutic benefits, including anti-viral, anti-seizure, and anti-inflammation.

Elena Schmidt

Elena Schmidt

June 13, 2019

Hemp/CBD in Florida

ACS Admin

February 17, 2023

DEA Says Delta-8 and Delta-9 THCOA (aka THCO) Falls Under Controlled Substances Act, not Farm Bill

According to the DEA's interpretation of the law, THCOA doesn’t fall within the Farm Bill's definition of hemp because hemp plants don’t naturally produce the cannabinoid.

Elena Schmidt

December 8, 2022

Companies Producing Edibles Containing CBD and Delta-8 THC Receive New Warning Letters from the FDA

FDA recently issued new warning letters to companies that produce CBD and Delta-8 THC edibles.

December 9, 2022

INTERVIEW: Live Rosin Delta-8: How It's Made, Effects, Safety & Quality

Live rosin delta 8 is a cannabis concentrate made from frozen plant material and manufactured delta-8 extract. Learn more.

December 14, 2022

Visit the New and Improved ACS Laboratory Website

Enhanced education, intuitive navigation, mushroom program launch, compliance updates, and more!

Elena Schmidt

December 20, 2022

Terpene Tuesdays: Everything You Need to Know About Camphene Flavor, Fragrance, and Benefits

Research suggests that camphene possesses anti-microbial and antiviral properties, provides coughing relief, and may even be able to prevent heart disease.

Elena Schmidt

Elena Schmidt

January 30, 2023

ACS Laboratory Receives 82 Emerald Badges for Exemplary Hemp and Cannabis Test Results, More Than Any Laboratory in the USA

Recently Awarded 21 Emerald Test Proficiency Badges for 2022, ACS has Reaffirmed its Position as the Most Trusted Third-party Hemp and Cannabis Testing Provider

ACS Laboratory

January 5, 2023

Functional Mushrooms: Exploring Lion’s Mane, Cordyceps, and Reishi Benefits & Uses

Reviewing functional mushroom benefits, research, and top products, with a focus on reishi, lion’s mane, and cordyceps.

Masha Ty