Agency of Agriculture Submits Comments on Hemp Interim Final Rule
January 29, 2020 | Montpelier, VT ‐ On January 27, 2020, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM) filed comments on United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Interim Final Rule establishing a Domestic Hemp Production Program. VAAFM acknowledged the complexity of developing a national hemp production program, but asked USDA to revise its rule to stay within the federal statutory mandate and avoid creating unnecessary restrictions that significantly increase costs and risks to producers.
“We believe our suggestions will improve the hemp program making it better for small growers while creating more opportunities for those making a living from hemp.” said Vermont Agriculture Secretary Anson Tebbetts. “I hope the USDA will consider providing States with the necessary flexibility to be able regulate hemp production while providing Vermont farmers with greater certainty and less risk.”
VAAFM commented on the interim final rule’s untenable negligence standard that exclusively relies on THC potency test results without evaluating producer culpability, no opportunity for remediation of crops exceeding a strict 0.3% THC standard, the rule’s restrictive sampling and testing procedures, and other miscellaneous issues.
The publication of the USDA Interim Final Rule does not immediately affect hemp cultivation in Vermont, as Vermont plans to continue operating its pilot program authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill for the 2020 growing season. Producers are required to register with VAAFM while it continues its pilot program for this year’s crop. VAAFM continues to consider the implications of the national plan and the requirements of any State plan as described by the Interim Final Rule. VAAFM supports consumer protection, quality control and the reasonable regulation of hemp.