Source: AgriLife Today
The wait is over, and the first look at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s interim final hemp production rules are now available. The rules were published in the Federal Register on Oct. 31 and public comment will be allowed for 60 days on the USDA website.
These rules do not, however, grant anyone the right to begin planting hemp in Texas. There are still several more steps to the process to finalize Texas industrial hemp rules, according to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service specialists working with hemp.
Hemp refers to the Cannabis plant with tetrahydrocannabinol, THC, concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry-weight basis. Cannabidiol, or CBD, is the most referenced product aligned with hemp production, but non-consumable hemp products include cloth, cordage, fiber, fuel, paint, paper, particleboard and plastics.
USDA hemp rules prompt Texas action
Tiffany Dowell Lashmet, AgriLife Extension agricultural law specialist, Amarillo, said a significant portion of the USDA rules tell tribes and states who are outlining their own hemp production plans what must be included. Another portion puts in place rules for producers in states or tribes that don’t want to create their own plan.
Texas hemp rules timeline
TDA general counsel Tim Kleinschmidt said while the rules and regulations process might be wrapped up by February, it will likely be March before they are ready to begin taking applications for licenses and permits. The statute allows them 60 days to process a license.
Read the rules
Lashmet suggested producers who hope to grow hemp read up on a few important segments of the rules, including:
- Personal and production information required by the government regarding expected hemp production.
- Sampling and testing for THC level in hemp – the “acceptable hemp THC level,” which allows for a margin of error in that THC test.
- What will happen if a crop does violate that THC level and, if destruction is required, what requirements that will entail.
- The rules contain a sort of ‘safe harbor’ provision, which says that if a hemp crop is produced that is ‘hot,’ as long as it is below 0.5% THC and reasonable production practices were used, the producer will not be considered negligent.
Financial risks of hemp production
Overall revenues outlined in the USDA rules vary depending on the type of production model, but as far as net returns, they range anywhere from negative $25,000 per acre up to a positive $7,000 per acre, he said. The range depends on whether it is a floral production, grain or fiber model.
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