The US Department of Agriculture has been asked to reevaluate farmers’ position on some aspects of the proposed hemp production interim rule. The US Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA-AMS), an agency within the department, was urged to listen to farmers over five proposed rules by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
The office of the advocacy group for small businesses sent a formal statement to the department’s officials during the long-drawn-out comment period that was finalized last week.
According to the statement by the SBA’s advocacy office, the proposed rules undermine the existence of small operators as it favors large businesses. To assess the possible impact of the regulation, the SBA carried out an outreach program with small scale hemp growers, manufacturers, universities, laboratories and other advocates within the hemp industry before and during the two comment periods.
The group stated in a letter to USDA-AMS that small hemp farmers are concerned about the regulation and that when finalized, without changes, it would hamper their ability to cultivate hemp.
The group further stated that many farmers feel as if they are being set up to fail, as the rules are too strict to allow the production of compliant hemp without running the risk of losing investment due to mandatory crop destruction. Consequently, many farmers have opted not to halt hemp cultivation this year until something is done to clarify the requirements and make the venture viable.
As part of the advocacy group’s comment submission to the AMS, it included a fact sheet detailing its concerns.
Still, hemp farmers unsure about the new laws were granted a one year reprieve by congress to continue to grow hemp under the 2014 legislation while regulators iron out the system.
In response to the comments, the USDA officials held that they are evaluating all industry comments as well as crop data.