Wyden, Merkley Press Feds to Improve Hemp Farming Rules

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today asked federal officials to change costly and confusing rules for farmers in Oregon and nationwide that cover the growing and testing of hemp.

“We fear that without these changes, our past work and efforts to support hemp farmers and the industry across the country may be for naught and we will not be able to achieve the growth and success we all know is possible with the right support and policies in place,” Wyden and Merkley wrote to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.

Farmers in Oregon and across the country are on the precipice of an agricultural boom that, with the right regulatory framework, stands to boost rural economies in every corner of the country,” they wrote.

The Oregon senators wrote they were pleased as authors of the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 that the Agriculture Department has recognized some of the challenges facing hemp producers and the need for more time to work with the industry on those issues. 

But Wyden and Merkley noted multiple outstanding regulatory issues blocking even greater growth for the hemp industry in Oregon, which has the country’s fourth highest number of hemp producers and the fifth highest hemp acreage nationally. The senators requested that USDA delay implementation of the final hemp rules until regulatory obstacles are fully addressed.

Among those regulatory obstacles, they wrote, are the following:

  • A lack of Oregon labs on the Agriculture Department’s list of hemp testing sites;
  • The department’s irrational insistence on only using labs registered with the DEA;
  • The need for hemp producers to have a wider range of disposal options for non-compliant crops;
  • The requirement that growers test hemp plants within 15 days of anticipated harvest even though more flexible Oregon Department of Agriculture rules allow crop testing within 28 days of harvest. 
  • The inflexible testing requirement for total delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), levels.

A copy of the entire letter is here.