WASHINGTON – The House of Representatives today released language for legislation that will keep the government operating at current funding levels and extends the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) hemp pilot program.
“We see this as a positive development for hemp farmers across the country,” said Patrick Atagi, Board Chairman of the National Industrial Hemp Council. “The hemp industry isn’t any different from other facets of our economy that have been adversely affected by COVID. We’ve continued to tell Congress that a global pandemic has made it increasingly difficult for states to meet and develop plans to be submitted to the USDA for approval before the expiration of the pilot program.”
In August, the NIHC joined the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) in writing to both House and Senate appropriators asking that the hemp pilot program be extended as part of any coronavirus relief package or as part of a continuing resolution. The NIHC and NASDA also that same day wrote to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue asking for him to use his discretion to extend the hemp pilot program and in a relatively unprecedented move USDA re-opened the comment period on the hemp interim final rule.
Farmers across the country have been able to legally grow hemp since the 2014 Farm bill was signed into law. That bill created a pilot program for hemp to be grown in states with plans that received USDA approval. After passage of the 2018 Farm Bill that removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, states had a deadline of October 31, 2020 to submit final plans to the USDA for approval as the pilot program was expiring. The global pandemic has presented obstacles for state departments of agriculture to finalize plans and submit them to the USDA for approval.
“As Washington’s leading voice for hemp, we’re pleased the House is listening to us. We’re going to continue to press the case on both sides of the Capitol about why this program is so important,” Atagi concluded.
About the National Industrial Hemp Council: The National Industrial Hemp Council provides high-quality networking and resources for its members, from farm to consumer. Its leadership is composed of leading international, federal, state, private industry, and government professionals throughout the sector. The organization is dedicated to furthering market development, assisting members in entering the industry, and educating consumers on industrial hemp and its applications. For more information please go to www.hempindustrial.com.