After announcing last October that all hemp crops in the 2020 growing season would have to be tested by a DEA-registered laboratory, there was a severe backlash from farmers and businesses. They argued that this provided a severe bottleneck for their industry, due to the fact that so few labs around the country had this qualification.
As an acknowledgment of the needs of producers, the USDA has decided to drop the rule for this coming season. The agency still plans to enforce the rule at a later date, but right now wants to ensure a smoother transition for the coming legislation. They are encouraging companies to work with their labs to get certified before the 2021 season.
“We now better understand how the limited number of DEA-registered labs will hinder testing and better understand the associated costs with disposing of product that contains over 0.3% THC could make entering the hemp market too risky,” the USDA announced.
“This about-face by the USDA means that farmers can continue to use their trusted local and regional analytical testing labs to ensure compliance with USDA rules,” Josh Schneider, CEO of San Diego-based Cultivaris Hemp, told Hemp Industry Daily.
“Getting rid of this ridiculous DEA testing requirement is a step in the right direction by the USDA,” he added. “Hopefully this means that the USDA has come to their senses and will be making better and smarter rules going forward.”
The USDA is also working to change its legislation regarding the disposal of any hemp that tests over the 0.3% legal threshold. Another common complaint from farmers is that all of their efforts can go to waste from one bad test on a product whose THC levels fluctuate throughout the growing season.
The lower limits either force them to cut their crops early or to risk a bad test. Giving farmers an option other than immediate destruction of any crop that tests too high will also help to keep the barrier to entry for farmers lower as many are just learning how to grow this crop.