As we previously reported, on October 31, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) released its highly anticipated interim final rule governing hemp regulations. The interim final rule outlines provisions for USDA to approve plans submitted by states and Indian tribes for the domestic production of hemp. It also establishes a federal plan for producers in states or territories of Indian tribes that do not have their own USDA-approved plan. The interim final rule originally provided for a 60-day comment period.
Aspects of the interim final rule have already been criticized by industry stakeholders, their representatives in Congress (see Wyden Merkley feedback), and other interested participants. As of this writing, over 1,200 comments on the interim final rule have been submitted. At the same time, state departments of agriculture have encouraged the USDA to extend the comment period to allow more time for the industry to analyze and respond to the interim final rule. On December 17, 2019, USDA announced that it is extending the comment period on its interim final rule until January 29, 2020, to allow stakeholders additional time to provide feedback. Industry groups and other interested parties now have a little more time to digest and respond to the USDA’s precedent-setting hemp regulations.