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MDARD Submits Comments on USDA’s Interim Final Rules on the Establishment of a Domestic Hemp Production Program

Hemp leaves grown at Hampshire Farms in Kingston, Michigan. Photo: Ashley Davenport
Hemp leaves grown at Hampshire Farms in Kingston, Michigan. Photo: Ashley Davenport

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) submitted its comments to the Federal Docket on USDA’s Interim Final Rules on the Establishment of a Domestic Hemp Production Program.

This rule outlines provisions for USDA to approve plans submitted by states and tribal organizations for the domestic production of hemp, including items such as maintaining information on land where hemp is produced, testing the levels of delta-9-tetrahydrocannibinol, disposing of non-compliant plants, licensing requirements, and ensuring compliance.

MDARD’s comments document several concerns about the focus of the rule which leans heavily on references to the Controlled Substance Act, the involvement of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the presumption hemp will be non-compliant.  MDARD encouraged USDA to evaluate typical hemp testing outcomes; specifically, the low THC range typically found and documented for non-compliant hemp and to relax the DEA emphasis in the rule.

Comments submitted also express concern about the economic impact the rule could have on Michigan growers if destruction is the only allowable option for hemp determined to exceed acceptable THC levels.  MDARD urged USDA to work with DEA to re-evaluate the destruction only option and allow state flexibility for re-direction of non-compliant hemp to an appropriate market.

Lastly, MDARD encouraged USDA to allow the states some flexibility in determining a realistic timeframe for sampling, testing and harvesting as opposed to the 15-day window mandated in the rule.  Factors including, weather, temperature and acreage could all impact hemp harvesting activities and must be considered when determining an appropriate window of time for harvest completion.

Copies of MDARD comments may be found on MDARD’s industrial hemp website under Resources.