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$OGI Wisconsin State Officials Say Federal Hemp Rules Unlikely to Affect 2020 Planting Season

November 13, 2019

According to agriculture officials in Wisconsin, the 2020 planting season will not be affected by the new federal rules on industrial hemp. Last week, the USDA released an interim final rule for establishing the Domestic Hemp Production Program. The USDA was mandated by the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill to develop federal regulations for industrial hemp growth.

The released interim final rule provides guidelines on the record-keeping system for easy access to information, testing procedures, disposal of plants not below 0.3% THC content, and licensing requirements for the state and tribal hemp programs. The rules also establish federal plans for growers in states or territories of Indian communities that do not have an approved hemp production program.

The 2019 planting season in Wisconsin was the second year growing industrial hemp under the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection hemp research pilot program in Wisconsin.

The Agency is reviewing the new regulations to determine how they will affect the current hemp program rules, said Sara Walling, the administrator of DATCP’s Agricultural Resource Management division.

Walling further said that the agency has several ways through which the new regulations align with the Wisconsin hemp program regulations, such as the testing for THC in hemp. She also noted that there other provisions in the interim final rule that require the USDA to do a lot of research, consideration, and debate. The new rules stipulate that the Wisconsin hemp program works with the USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) to issue cultivation licenses.

The DATCP officials and the legislators will be working together to ensure that it will be possible to make the necessary amendments under the legislation meant to update the state’s pilot hemp program.

However, the new changes will not impact the growers and processors during next year’s planting season, Walling said.

Walling said that the 2020 planting season will operate under the 2014 Farm Bill because the agency is still assessing and considering all the parameters presented to them through the legislation, which is currently being debated by lawmakers.

She further said that the state of Wisconsin is supposed to submit its hemp program proposal and get authorization from the USDA by October 13, 2020.

The rules are clear to understand for producers, and it is a step in the right direction for the hemp industry, said Ken Anderson, the CEO of Legacy Hemp Holdings, Inc. He also noted that the production of seed and fiber would not be affected by the changes in THC testing. But Anderson hopes that hemp grown for fiber and seeds would not be subjected to the stringent measures such as those of hemp for CBD.

Although the USDA rule has established some crop insurance and loan programs for hemp farmers, Anderson said that banks and insurance sectors are still wary of conducting business with industrial hemp businesses.

The general counsel for the Wisconsin Hemp Alliance, Larry Konopacki, said that the USDA plan to be actively involved in regulating state programs is disappointing because they thought that the federal rule would grant them the opportunity to design their program as they see fit.

Konopacki also said that the final interim rule would make growing hemp a challenge for Wisconsin growers by imposing strict testing requirements for THC.

Experts think that the reassurance that the 2020 planting season in Wisconsin will not be guided by the federal hemp rules is a welcome move in the eyes of industry actors like Marijuana Company of America Inc. (OTCQB: MCOA) and Organigram Holdings Inc. (TSX: OGI) (NASDAQ: OGI) who could prefer a phased manner of introducing new regulations.

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Wednesday, November 13th, 2019 Uncategorized