Letter from Ag Chairs to USDA Regarding Interim Final Rule on the US Domestic Hemp Production Program

The Honorable Sonny Perdue
Secretary, United States Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20250

Dear Secretary Perdue:

We are writing to express our concerns over the Interim Rule being proposed by the USDA regarding the growing of industrial hemp. While we appreciate the extension of the public comment period, we believe it is in the best interest of farmers, processors, retailers, and consumers to pursue a more flexible regulatory approach. As such, we urge you to consider extending the hemp provisions under the 2014 Farm Bill until 2022 to enable the necessary time to develop a program that will support, rather than stifle, this promising industry.

As you are aware, New York State is unable to submit a state Industrial Hemp Plan, despite a significant investment of time and resources, due to a number of costly and burdensome provisions that make the Interim Rule unworkable for state government and farmers. The main obstacles to implementation were outlined in an August 14, 2020, letter to you from Richard Ball, New York State Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets. These include provisions regarding the timing of sampling and testing, disposal of non-compliant plants, and reporting requirements, which are onerous and counter-productive to achieving the desired outcomes of the Interim Rule. A federally compliant plan is simply unachievable, given the extraordinary resources that would be required to implement it, and we are greatly concerned about the harmful impacts the federal rule would have on a valuable industry.

As the Agriculture Chairs of the State Senate and Assembly, we urge you to extend the 2014 Farm Bill to 2022. We hope that New York’s observations and formal comments on the Interim Final Rule, as well as those of other states that have expressed similar concerns, will set the stage for a new, more flexible regulatory approach to the hemp industry. The possibilities are endless for what this plant can do for farmers, processors and manufacturers along each step of the supply chain, not to mention the pent-up consumer demand for these products.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Donna Lupardo
Chair, Assembly Agriculture Committee
Jen Metzger
Chair, Senate Agriculture Committee

Cc: Richard Ball, Commissioner, NYS Department of Agriculture & Markets