The US Congressional Research Service (CRS) has issued a memo on issues relating to the hemp industry ahead of the Farm Bill’s potential renewal.
Following an agreement by The House of Republicans on a stopgap funding bill that will see a one-year extension to the 2018 Farm Bill, the CRS has issued the memo – Farm Bill Primer: Selected Hemp Industry Issues – addressing the industry.
The success of the hemp industry is relying on the renewal of the Farm Bill, which brought a significant change for the US hemp industry by descheduling commercial hemp production and eliminating hemp from the Controlled Substances Act.
While the 2018 farm bill only addressed issues of cultivation relating to hemp, the CRS highlights it did not address issues relating to consumer products containing hemp, with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) preserving authority over products.
The report states that it currently remains unclear whether changes to FDA laws and regulations fall within the jurisdiction of the agriculture committees, and that since the implementation of the 2018 bill, a number of hemp industry groups have been established that have conflicting interests.
These differing priorities may complicate hemp policymaking, the CRS warns.
To support hemp policymaking the report suggests a number of issues will need to be addressed and puts forward what it considers should be shared priority policies.
One such priority includes the relaxation of the USDA’s regulatory requirements, such as reducing oversight from the DEA, removing the need for hemp testing at DEA-registered labs, and exempting hemp fibre and grain farmers from background checks, as well as sampling and testing protocols, that are required for farmers growing hemp for use in cannabinoid products.
Product safety concerns should also be addressed, along with enhancing USDA support for hemp, such as expanding genetics research and developing processing capacity of hemp fibres for use in insulation, construction materials and plastics.
The report also suggests that if hemp was designated as a speciality crop could qualify hemp for USDA programmes.