The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has eased its hemp testing rules for growers and their crops.
A rule that would have required farmers to test for hemp THC levels only at Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)-approved labs has been abandoned.
The easement of the draconian proposal will benefit the hemp industry—especially growers in rural areas.
The Colorado Department of Agriculture was amongst the chorus of hemp industry proponents who opposed the rule.
As more farmers look to move into hemp, such restrictions would have hampered further industry growth. There were already 230,000 acres of industrial hemp planted last year. These provided an alternative to mainstay crops like corn, soybeans, and wheat.
New USDA hemp testing rules
By law, hemp cannot contain more than 0.3% of THC. Growers were concerned there would not be enough approved labs to test hemp crops at harvest time. There are apparently just four (!) DEA labs in the country.
Farmers will now be able to find alternative testing systems to insure their hemp falls under the 0.3% threshold.
The hemp testing rules for farmers differ state to state and can be a burden.
According to an article from Successful Farming, Agriculture Undersecretary Greg Ibach said, “We are going to be able to provide some relief from the lab certification process for this crop year.”
Under the new rule, labs that the state considers reliable will be able to test hemp yields.
The long-term benefits for industrial hemp farmers and manufacturers are plentiful. Hemp growers will now have more time and flexibility to test and then harvest their crops. This offers farmers the possibility grow larger crops each year.
Hot hemp crop disposal
The other major rule change released by the USDA is more options for hemp growers to dispose of “hot” hemp crops—or those that test above the 0.3% threshold.
Previously, farmers would have had to hire designated contractors. Under the rule change, growers can now destroy the crop using a mechanical shredder or disk harrow.
That way, farmers can reuse the hemp plants as green manure for next year’s planting season.
Overall, the USDA rule changes are promising. The department’s change of tone on hemp farming signals a growing acceptance of hemp, as well as an understanding of the economic benefits of the industry.
The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) have become clear benefactors of the hemp industry and hemp farmers. The group recently adopted a new policy that recognizes the crop’s potential and encourages uniform regulations.
What it means for hemp farmers
On a hemp insurance level for growers and cultivators, this means growers will have easier processes to follow and even be able to expand across states without changing regulations.
To learn more about following legal hemp procedures and insuring your hemp farm or crops, reach out to Full Spectrum Insurance.