Senator Schumer Calls for Extension on USDA Deadline for Hemp Comments

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is urging the USDA to re-examine hemp regulations before moving forward.

With fewer than 30 days left to submit public comments on proposed federal hemp regulations, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is asking for more time.

After being approached by New York farmers concerned about the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) interim regulations, Schumer requested a 60-day extension on the public comment deadline.

Schumer stated in a Nov. 27 press release that although he appreciated the work USDA has done, he has concerns about the interim final rule including regulations that “could have harmful effects on hemp production in New York State and across the country.”

“That’s why today I’m urging USDA to extend the comment period for its proposed final rule on hemp production to ensure that farmers, growers and producers have ample time to provide input and have their concerns listened to and that a meaningful part of these concerns is integrated into the final rule.”

“These hemp experts have serious fears about how this proposed rulemaking could impose unrealistic or poorly thought out rules, restrict their industry, cut-off growth and stop the creation of good-paying jobs. So, it is incumbent on USDA, the chief agricultural regulators in the United States, to hear them out and make improvements to the final regulations that are balanced and smart.”

Schumer sent a letter to the Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue requesting the extension. Schumer first vocalized his concern during a visit to a first-year hemp farm in New York. According to a local news report, Schumer chatted with area hemp farmers about the proposed federal regulations.

“There are all kinds of issues, and some people believe the [THC] level they set is way too low, because it’s way below the harmful level,” Schumer said, according to The Daily News. “You put all that together and they need to look at these rules and re-examine them.”

On Oct. 31, the USDA released interim federal guidelines for hemp. With the release of rules came an invitation for public comment with a Dec. 30 deadline.

The USDA’s proposed hemp regulations cover a lot of topics and include provisions for maintaining information on the land where hemp is produced, testing the THC, disposing of plants that don’t meet necessary requirements, licensing, and ensuring compliance.

Schumer pointed out in his statement some of his concerns about the USDA’s proposed regulations. One concern involves the 15-day timeframe producers would have for the harvesting, sampling and then testing crops.

In his press release, Schumer expressed concern over what he described as a “tight turnaround,” particularly since testing typically takes five to six business days. The senator also said that the limited number of DEA-registered laboratories could pose challenges for farmers to meet the short 15-day window.

Another concern that has been echoed in public comments is the lack of provisions for growers to salvage or retest crops that initially did not meet THC requirements.

Those interested can submit feedback on the proposed hemp regulations until Dec. 30, here.

Find a copy of Schumer’s letter to Perdue, here.

Schumer on Cannabis

Schumer played a key role in the passage of the 2018 Hemp Farming Act, part of the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp at the federal level.

Schumer also introduced the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act in 2018 with hopes of removing marijuana from the federal controlled substances list and allow states to the authority to decide how it should be regulated.

In October, Schumer joined a group of other U.S. Senators urging the Food and Drug Administration to expedite its guidelines on CBD regulations.

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