SBA: Hemp Interim Final Rule Stifles Businesses’ Participation
The Office of Advocacy (Advocacy) of the U.S. Small Business Administration has submitted comments in response to the reopening of the public comment period for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) interim final rule titled: “Establishment of a Domestic Hemp Production Program.” Advocacy is concerned about the potential effects the rule will have on small businesses if it is finalized without modifications. Advocacy urges the agency to reconsider certain requirements of the rule, and to consider regulatory alternatives outlined below, and by several states and small entities.
“Small businesses remain deeply concerned about the impact this rule will have on their ability to
legally grow hemp should the rule be finalized without any modifications,” the Office of Advocacy said in a letter to the USDA. “The rule has already stifled the industry as many farmers have chosen not to grow hemp this year until they are certain about what the requirements are, and whether they can produce compliant crops without the risk of a total loss of their investment due to mandatory destruction of hot crops. In some instances, they have noted that the rules are so stringent that they feel as though they are being set up to fail.”
In its comments, Advocacy made the case that the Interim Final Rule stifles small businesses’ participation in the hemp industry. Key comments include:
- AMS should allow for remediation and on-farm disposal of non-compliant crops so that farmers do not experience a total revenue loss.
- AMS should lengthen the 15-day harvest window as it is too narrow, and simply unworkable for farmers
- Testing should include more than just the top one-third of the plant as this better reflects how the plant will be used and ensures that there will not be an inflated number of hot crops.
- AMS should reconsider its measurement of uncertainty for sampling to account for variables in pre-sampling activities.
- The requirement that labs be DEA registered overburdens labs and farmers.