The long-awaited rules from the USDA have arrived. Anyone paying attention to the hemp space is likely aware of how important the hemp program recommendations were. And then they showed up. All 43 pages of them. And… well, not a lot happened.
Here’s a quick recap of what we’ve found out.
THC levels remain at the same threshold they’ve been since the 2018 Farm Bill was published. No industrial hemp may be grown or processed possessing THC levels that exceed 0.3%.
Worker Background Checks
Federal background checks will be required for “Key Participants” in and hemp operation. A “Key Participant” is anyone with a direct or indirect financial interest in the operation.
Licensing and Testing
All growers and processors must be licensed and crops must be tested to ensure they’re not “hot,” the common term for plants that possess higher levels of THC than the allowable threshold. Testing must be done at a DEA-registered lab.
Handling Hot Crops
Without much for options, and to the dismay of many farmers, the USDA’s stance remains the same on hot crops. They must be disposed of by someone authorized to handle a Schedule I controlled substance.
The ruling makes clear that no law enforcement agency can stop the legal transportation for hemp within its borders. This is true even in the few hold out states – Idaho, Mississippi, and South Dakota – where production and processing remain illegal.
Little progress was made for financial institutions seeking clarity on the regulatory environment of financing hemp operations. Look to the banking industry to develop their own set of standards, though there’s no telling when that’ll happen.
Not a great deal of clarity has been added for insurance, though the WFRP (Whole-Farm Revenue Protection Plan) is available to hemp growers. Those wishing to qualify must notify the Farm Service Agency of acreage planted with hemp. Another requirement is that the grower has an agreement in place for the purchase of his or her completed crop prior to being accepted into the program.
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