Farmers react to proposed USDA hemp regulations

 CENTRAL POINT, Ore. — Speak now or forever hold your peace, that’s the message local hemp farmers are putting out.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the creation of the Domestic Hemp Production Program with potential rules to regulate hemp at the state level after the Farm Bill passed last year. After releasing the proposed rules, it’s asking for the public’s thoughts.

“Right now, this law is proposing that we would only be able to farm hemp with a total THC percentage of 0.3 percent,” said Zion Greenfield, local hemp farmer and CBD manufacturer. Greenfield said putting a 0.3 percent cap on THC levels would cause farmers all across the U.S. to harvest prematurely, which could decrease the amount of its medicinal benefits.

Right now, there are ways to reduce the amount of THC after it’s harvested, Greenfield said they couldn’t do that under these new rules. As proposed, farmers would need to send a sample of the hemp flower to a D.E.A. certified lab within 15 days of their planned harvest, to ensure the THC level is below 0.3 percent. They’d also have to harvest within that same timeframe.  Greenfield said he’s been harvesting for nearly six weeks and still has a way to go.

“I mean, that is completely crippling to the industry,” he said. “It’s impossible to meet those regulations and they’re gonna have to change if we’re gonna be able to continue farming for CBD.”

Greenfield said a big positive about the proposed regulations, however, is getting the green light on shipping or driving the crop anywhere in the country. “It hammers home that no state or Indian tribe will interfere with the interstate commerce of this material, which is really important for us.”

Greenfield hopes all those in the hemp industry read through the proposal and give their thoughts to the USDA. “It’s a pivotal point right now, and if we could really hone in right now and have them hear our opinion in an honest and authentic way, I think it could change the history for hemp and for cannabinoids in the U.S.”

The USDA is giving the public until December 30th to comment on the rules. They’ll then evaluate and potentially make changes before the rules become permanent.

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