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Takeaways - National Hemp Regulators Conference

By Hemp Program, VT Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets - January 2022

The Vermont Hemp Program participated in a two-day conference of national hemp regulators in November.  Connecticut and North Dakota hosted the virtual conference, multiple states helped organize seven sessions exploring many topics including the potential of hemp as an animal feed, hemp testing methods and how to establish “dry weight basis” when measuring potency. There were discussions on the differences between state level hemp program policy and included updates from federal regulators and programs. The session coordinated by Maine and Vermont focused on USDA’s final rule and the flexibility offered with performance-based sampling, sample methods for remediated crops, and requirements for using sampling agents and USDA’s training.   

On the first day of the conference, Bill Richmond, USDA Hemp Program Chief, emphasized that next year brings about change on how hemp cultivation is regulated nationally with the repeal of the 2014 Farm Bill Hemp Pilot program authorization and the implementation of USDA’s final rule. Absent legal change, hemp growers will register under a State plan approved by USDA.  Or, in the absence of an approved State plan, with USDA, directly. Mr. Richmond shared the launch of Hemp eManagement Platform (HeMP). HeMP is USDA’s online system to manage information from Domestic Hemp Production Program participants, which includes state and tribal regulators, laboratories testing hemp crops, and growers regulated by USDA.  These participants will use the online platform to submit testing results, required reports and other program information to USDA. It also includes a portal for law enforcement officials to search for hemp licensee/registrant information and detailed maps of where hemp is being grown based on lot level data from Farm Service Agency (FSA). More information can be found here,  

The FSA as noted above has a key role in the Domestic Hemp Production Program. Devon Marsden from FSA explained the requirements for all growers, this includes producers of hemp for personal use, to establish farm records, and to report hemp crops and field locations in 2022. Here is  guidance on the hemp acreage reporting procedure for growers,  The Vermont Hemp Program encourages its growers to contact their local FSA office,, to get a head start on this process. 

The second day started with a discussion about hemp variety trials conducted by researchers at the University of Tennessee and their associated agricultural extension service, North Dakota State University, and Arizona Ag Improvement. Researchers conducted trials to study the genetic stability in cultivars over time, and the efficacy of different products used to control pathogens such as powdery mildew, among other topics. Some interesting highlights include a variety trial that found higher nitrogen application rates were linked to higher pre-harvest CBD concentrations. A different study showed that some approved products for pathogen control proved to be ineffective when crops experienced prolonged rainy conditions. The overarching takeaway from all the research presented is consistent with what Vermont growers have been reporting anecdotally and through data gathered from record collection; more breeding work and research is needed for growers to cultivate reliable and productive crops.  

Jessica Burgess of the Massachusetts Hemp Program, and Cort Jensen of the Montana Hemp Program, discussed the differences and similarities between their hemp programs and the challenges they face. Mr. Jensen highlighted that the use of certified sampling agents for the purposes of pre-harvest sampling is proving to be challenging for growers in his state, due to the distances between most growers. This makes using sampling agents either unaffordable for growers, or uneconomical for sampling agents. They also talked about how each state regulates hemp and recreational high THC cannabis. Ms. Burgess explained that high THC cannabis is not considered an agricultural commodity in MA, and is therefore regulated under a different program, but there is some crossover. The Hemp Program in MA is currently adopting rules to allow for hemp products to be sold in the commercial cannabis market. A consistent theme throughout this discussion was how USDA’s final rule governing hemp production is affecting states in different ways. In Vermont for example, in 2022, in addition to being required to work with FSA, growers will be required to use certified sampling agents to take pre-harvest samples. More information regarding sampling agents can be found here,

Returns to January 2022 Agriview All-Access