USDA Clarifies Industrial Hemp Production For Indian Tribes

usda-logoDISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: On May 28, 2019 the USDA issued the following notice:

This notice clarifies avenues for Tribal participation under authorities in the 2014 Farm Bill to grow industrial hemp for research purposes during the 2019 growing season. Under the 2014 Farm Bill, an Indian tribe can enter into a partnership or contract with an institution of higher education or a State department of agriculture both within or in a different State than the one in which the Indian tribe is located to produce industrial hemp on the tribe’s land. For an Indian tribe to be eligible to do so, the State in which the Indian tribe is located and the State in which the institution of higher education or State department of agriculture is located both must allow the production of industrial hemp.

The 2014 Farm Bill authorizes State departments of agriculture and institutions of higher education to grow and cultivate hemp for the limited purpose of conducting research under pilot programs.  However, the definition of “State” that applies to section 7606 does not include Indian tribes. Indian tribes independently have not been able to initiate their own hemp programs under the 2014 Farm Bill and instead have had to obtain a license or authorization under a state program.

This ability under the 2014 Farm Bill to obtain a license or authorization from a State department of agriculture or institution of higher education located in a State other than the State of one’s residence extends to persons and entities that are not affiliated with an Indian tribe.  As is the case with Indian tribes, a State department of agriculture located in a State that allows for hemp production may license or authorize an individual or entity that is not located in that State to produce hemp for research purposes, provided that the State where the individual or entity is located also allows hemp production.  Likewise, an individual or entity may partner or contract with an institution of higher education in another State under the same conditions.

The law remains unchanged in that Indian tribes, individuals, and entities located in States that do not permit hemp production are ineligible to participate in the growing or cultivation of hemp under the 2014 Farm Bill program.

Senate Passes Farm Bill, Which Includes Senator McConnell’s Hemp Farming Act

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced today the Senate passed the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (Farm Bill), which takes serious steps to ensure the future of American agriculture. A conference committee made up with members from both chambers will now reconcile the Senate and House versions of the Farm Bill.

The Senate Farm Bill strengthens the safety measures that directly help commodity producers as they confront low prices and the constant threat of natural disasters. It also seizes on a number of opportunities to invest in the future of American agriculture and rural communities. It contains a provision – championed by Senator McConnell — that would empower farmers to begin cultivating industrial hemp, a crop that could play a key role in the economic future of Kentucky and the nation. It also focuses on expanding rural broadband and water infrastructure and continuing the fight against the opioid epidemic is devastating rural America.

“As the proud senior Senator from the Commonwealth of Kentucky who has served on the Agriculture Committee since my first day in the Senate, I know exactly how important this legislation is to agricultural communities. From soybeans and corn to hay and tobacco to poultry and livestock, Kentucky agriculture encompasses a multi-billion-dollar industry that supports thousands and thousands of good jobs in nearly every corner of the Commonwealth,” Senator McConnell said. “Kentuckians know as well as anyone just how important American agriculture is — and we understand as well as anyone all the unique challenges that it faces. That is why I proudly supported this bill, which will bolster programs supporting our producers.”

“Today’s passage of the Senate version of the Farm Bill takes farm families here in Kentucky and across the country one step closer to the certainty they need to survive such a tough agricultural economy,” said Kentucky Farm Bureau President Mark Haney. “I would like to thank Senator McConnell on his extensive efforts to move forward the single most important piece of legislation affecting agriculture and rural communities. He continually works to help an industry that is so crucial to every citizen in this country, as well as our neighbors across the world who depend heavily on the success of the American farmer.”

The Senate Farm Bill also includes Senator McConnell’s measure (The Hemp Farming Act of 2018) to legalize hemp as an agricultural commodity by removing it from the federal list of controlled substances. It also gives states the opportunity to become the primary regulators of hemp production, allows hemp researchers to apply for competitive federal grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and makes hemp farmers eligible to apply for crop insurance.

“Last year alone, Kentucky hemp recorded more than $16 million in product sales through the state pilot program I previously secured, demonstrating that hemp holds great potential for the future of Kentucky agriculture,” Senator McConnell added. “For far too long, the federal government has prevented most farmers from growing hemp. Although it was a foundational part of Kentucky’s heritage and today you can buy hemp products at stores across the country, most American farmers have been barred from planting it in their fields. I have heard from many Kentucky farmers who agree it’s time to remove the federal hurdles and give our state the opportunity to seize its full potential and once again become the national leader for hemp production. That is why I strongly advocated for this measure to be included in the Farm Bill, which will finally and fully legalize industrial hemp.”

“For farmers across America, there is no piece of legislation more important than the Farm Bill,” saidKentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles. “I am particularly excited to see that the full text of Leader McConnell’s Hemp Farming Act of 2018 made it into this bipartisan bill. This Farm Bill will allow state departments of agriculture, like Kentucky’s, to unleash the full economic potential of industrial hemp pilot programs. I applaud Leader McConnell for his tireless advocacy for Kentucky farmers.”

In collaboration with agriculture leaders in Kentucky and throughout the nation, Senator McConnell utilized his position as Senate Majority Leader to secure language in the 2014 Farm Bill to authorize hemp research pilot programs. He built on that success with federal legislation to ensure that hemp produced from the pilot program could be transported, processed, and marketed. Under the guidance of Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles and his predecessor, now-U.S. Representative James Comer (KY-1), these programs have allowed Kentucky farmers to both research the plant and to demonstrate its potential. Representative Comer is leading the effort on this issue in the House of Representatives.

Senator McConnell and Commissioner Quarles Announce Hemp Legislation

KENTUCKY: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles (R-KY) announced today the impending introduction of legislation in the United States Senate to support Kentucky’s hemp industry. The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 will legalize hemp as an agricultural commodity and remove it from the list of controlled substances.

Senator McConnell took the first step to support hemp in 2014 by using his leadership position in the Senate to spearhead a provision to legalize hemp pilot programs in the Farm Bill. Since then, the research has shown the potential of hemp as an agricultural commodity.

“Hemp has played a foundational role in Kentucky’s agricultural heritage, and I believe that it can be an important part of our future,” Senator McConnell said. “I am grateful to join our Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles in this effort. He and his predecessor, Jamie Comer, have been real champions for the research and development of industrial hemp in the Commonwealth. The work of Commissioner Quarles here in Kentucky has become a nationwide example for the right way to cultivate hemp. I am proud to stand here with him today, because I believe that we are ready to take the next step and build upon the successes we’ve seen with Kentucky’s hemp pilot program.”

“Here in Kentucky, we have built the best Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program in the country and have established a model for how other states can do the same with buy-in from growers, processors, and law enforcement,” Commissioner Quarles said. “I want to thank Leader McConnell for introducing this legislation which allows us to harness the economic viability of this crop and presents the best opportunity to put hemp on a path to commercialization.”

The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 will help Kentucky enhance its position as the leading state on hemp production. It builds upon the success we have seen through the hemp pilot programs by allowing states to be the primary regulators of hemp, if the U.S. Department of Agriculture approves their implementation plan. This legislation also will remove the federal barriers in place that have stifled the industry, which will help expand the domestic production of hemp. It will also give hemp researchers the chance to apply for competitive federal grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture – allowing them to continue their impressive work with the support of federal research dollars.

Senator McConnell plans to introduce the bill in the Senate, with Senator Rand Paul and a bipartisan group of members, following this state work period.

Legalizing Weed: Key Players In Utah’s Legalization Of Industrial Hemp Farming

UTAH: For decades, it was illegal to grow hemp in the United States because of the plant’s relationship to the marijuana drug. However, hemp is not itself a drug, and many states, including Utah, have begun legalizing hemp production because of the benefits offered to farmers, manufacturers, and the economy. 

The federal government removed some of the restrictions on industrial hemp farming with the 2014 Farm Bill. Before that several states had already legalized it, either with immediate plans to begin production, or to be ready when the government lifted its ban. 

The following people participated in the effort to legalize hemp in Utah.

1. State Rep. Gage Froerer
State Rep. Gage Froerer was the chief sponsor of House Bill 105, which made several changes to how the state treats hemp and cannabis. The bill makes it lawful for the state’s Department of Agriculture and for colleges and universities to grow hemp for the purposes of research or as an agricultural crop.

U.S. Leads World in Hemp Food, Beauty Sales

CALIFORNIA:  U.S. hemp product sales are growing fast. The Hemp Industries Association (HIA; Summerland, CA) estimates 21.2% retail sales growth in 2014 for hemp food and body care products, putting the 2014 total at $200 million. If other hemp-based products are added to the mix—clothing, auto parts, building materials, etc.—the total 2014 U.S. retail market is even higher at $620 million.

In food and personal care, popular products like non-dairy milk, shelled seed, soaps, and lotions are driving growth. Loosening regulations around hemp agriculture are also helping to spur the market, including the 2014 Farm Bill that enables U.S. hemp growing for research purposes and the 2015-proposed Industrial Hemp Farming Act, which would allow U.S. growing for commercial use.

Sales of food and personal care have steadily trended upward: 7.3% (2011), 16.5% (2012), 24% (2013), and 21.2% (2014). Growth has been quicker in conventional channels (26.8%) than in natural channels (16.3%).

These numbers may even underestimate the market size. The association says that because its 2014 estimates from natural and conventional retailers exclude data from some key sellers like Whole Foods Market and Costco, actual total market sales may in fact be 2.5-times higher. (HIA’s sales estimates are supported by market researcher SPINS.)

 

Now Appearing: Hemp, For First Time In Decades

COLORADO:  Proponents of industrial hemp say it’s one of the most misunderstood plants in the world. It’s related to its far more controversial cousin, marijuana, but lacks the THC that gives marijuana its psychedelic properties.

The first federal law mentioning hemp came in 1937. Congress discouraged the high THC varieties of cannabis, like marijuana, while exempting farmers who grew the crop for industrial uses like fiber and seed. It enjoyed a short resurgence during World War II, when the federal government actually promoted the crop, petering off in the 1950s. The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 put the current kibosh on the plant. It required farmers apply for a federal permit before growing it. No commercial permits have been granted since then.

But in a historic move, the 2014 farm bill allowed hemp cultivation in areas where state laws have legalized the crop.

Kentucky, California, and Colorado are among states that have welcomed its return. Nebraska recently passed a law opening the door for farmers to grow hemp. Currently 12 states have legislation on the books that would allow cultivation of hemp as laid out in the recent Farm Bill.