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Noem Releases Statement on USDA Hemp Guidelines
South Dakota Ag Connection - 11/06/2019

Governor Kristi Noem Tuesday issued the following statement regarding the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) new regulatory guidelines for industrial hemp:

"USDA's guidelines are out, but my position on legalizing industrial hemp has not changed. I remain opposed to industrial hemp in South Dakota because of the impact it will have on public safety and law enforcement's ability to enforce drug laws.

"USDA does not preempt a state's ability to adopt stronger requirements or prohibit production. South Dakota state law prohibits industrial hemp production, and that statute still stands. The guidelines do require the State to permit interstate transportation of hemp. My team is working to ensure we have proper procedures in place so this doesn't become something that weakens our drug laws.

"Conversations around hemp will continue, and I will continue to make the case that legalizing hemp will legalize marijuana by default," Noem ended.

On Oct. 29 U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the establishment of the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program. This program, as required by the 2018 Farm Bill, creates a consistent regulatory framework around hemp production throughout the United States.

"At USDA, we are always excited when there are new economic opportunities for our farmers, and we hope the ability to grow hemp will pave the way for new products and markets," said Secretary Perdue. "We have had teams operating with all hands-on-deck to develop a regulatory framework that meets Congressional intent while seeking to provide a fair, consistent, and science-based process for states, tribes, and individual producers who want to participate in this program."

This week, an interim final rule formalizing the program will be published in the Federal Register that will allow hemp to be grown under federally-approved plans and make hemp producers eligible for a number of agricultural programs. The rule includes provisions for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to approve hemp production plans developed by states and Indian tribes including: requirements for maintaining information on the land where hemp is produced; testing the levels of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol; disposing of plants not meeting necessary requirements; and licensing requirements. It also establishes a federal plan for hemp producers in states or territories of Indian tribes that do not have their own approved hemp production plan.

The interim final rule becomes effective upon publication in the Federal Register. Following publication, USDA invites public comment on the interim rule and the information collection burden. The interim final rule is posted on USDA's website.

USDA also developed guidelines for sampling and testing procedures that are being issued concurrently with this rule. These documents provide additional information for sampling agents and hemp testing laboratories.

More information about the provisions of the interim final rule is available on the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program web page on the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) website.

Once state and tribal plans are in place, hemp producers will be eligible for a number of USDA programs, including insurance coverage through Whole-Farm Revenue Protection. For information on available programs, visit farmers.gov/hemp.

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