Photo caption: Tribes included in new federal rules governing Hemp production. Courtesy Photo/Shutterstock
Indian Country is one step closer to entering the hemp industry.
An interim final rule formalizing the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Domestic Hemp Production Program is scheduled for publication in the Oct. 31 edition of the Federal Register.
Once the interim rule is published in the Federal Register, a 60-day comment period will start and remain open through Dec. 30.
The establishment of the program, originally outlined in the 2018 edition of the Farm Bill, will allow industrial hemp to be grown under federally-approved plans and make hemp producers eligible for a number of agricultural programs, including crop insurance, farm loans and farm storage facility loans.
The interim rule includes provisions for the USDA to approve hemp production plans developed by states and Indian tribes including requirements for maintaining information on the land where hemp is produced, testing the levels of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, disposing of plants not meeting the necessary requirements, licensing requirements and penalties for non-compliance.
Tribes and states will be required to share some licensing information with the USDA, including names and contact information of every producer, as well as the legal description of each production site. In turn, the USDA will make that shared information available in real time to federal, state, tribal and local-level law enforcement in accordance with the terms of the 2018 Farm Bill.
The interim rule also establishes a federal plan for hemp producers in states or jurisdictional areas of Indian tribes that do not have their own approved hemp production plan. Should a grower live in an area that does not have its own approved hemp production plan through a state, U.S. territory or tribe, they can instead apply for a hemp growing license directly from the USDA.
As of Oct. 29, the Pawnee Nation, along with 19 other states and tribes have already submitted draft hemp production regulations prior to the publication of the USDA’s interim final rule. To date, no state or tribal plans have been approved yet.