The Big Conversations in Hemp in 2021

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With the recent decision by the House and Senate to extend the hemp pilot program through October 31, 2021, the country has split in its approach to hemp in 2021. What could have been a unifying moment is now keeping the market segmented.

On one hand, 14 states plan to follow the USDA Hemp Production rules. Thirty-five states, however, decided to continue using practices established through the 2014 Farm Bill and hemp production Pilot Programs.

An unexpected announcement

This decision to extend the hemp pilot program came as a surprise to many in the industry. It may be a result of concerns attached to the USDA’s program. These primarily involve sampling and testing procedures, including:

  • The DEA’s involvement
  • What part of the plant gets tested
  • The 15-day testing window

The USDA regulations as a whole give off a sense of uncertainty. The biggest reg flag being the DEA testing of hemp samples. This creates conflict since hemp is no longer considered a Schedule 1 substance. There’s no reason for the DEA’s involvement. Their association with cannabis as an illegal substance could lead to overregulation.

There’s also the issue of availability when it comes to DEA testing. With only 47 labs across the country, there’s a struggle to keep up with demand. This can lead to an unintentional bottleneck which may have a significant impact on crops at harvest time.

One way to deal with this issue is to allow ISO-accredited labs to qualify for testing alongside DEA labs. However, the USDA program has yet to change their rules to make this a possibility.

A choice that’s good for today’s hemp farmer

With so many points of concern in the USDA plan, the decision to extend the pilot program has left some farmers feeling relieved. The position we’re in now allows decision-makers to go to work. They can amend the USDA rules before mandating everyone follow them. States help to drive the conversation toward the areas that most impact their farmers. All this contributes to the wide reception of the next set of hemp regulations.

It’s also nice to have your voice heard in such a controversial area. Over 93 percent of the hemp acres grown in 2020 were part of a pilot program. The USDA hemp production program governed less than seven percent. The voices of majority are loud and clear. This gives states like Colorado, Oregon, Tennessee, Montana, and Kentucky a voice worthy of their contribution to the industry.

The conversation will continue

This separation of regulations when it comes to hemp farming is keeping the industry fragmented. Bringing hemp production in under one set of regulations can increase efficiency. It can help streamline industry processes as a whole. But, this can only happen when more people are onboard with a single plan. For now, there’s a divide. This gives many states the ability to put in place unique procedures and program rules. However, people are starting to speak up, and it may make a difference.

Although this latest ruling is set for the next ten months, the conversation will continue about hemp regulations. Seeing the impact of this decision will influence most conversations around hemp in 2021.
To ensure your compliance with the latest hemp production rules, make sure to review your state regulations. For help generating high-quality hemp and hemp-derived products, contact Arbor Vita8 today.


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