The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has begun mailing out surveys today to all of the nation’s hemp producers, with the hope that their comments will help the agency collect data about operations and production.
The USDA’s first hemp survey, entitled the “Hemp Acreage and Production Survey,” was mailed out on October 18. It’s the first time that the agency has tried to collect data about hemp harvests. “The Hemp Acreage and Production Survey collects information on the acreage, yield, production, price, and value of hemp in the United States,” said the USDA’s National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS).
“The Domestic Hemp Production Program established in the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill) allows for the cultivation of hemp under certain conditions. The Hemp Acreage and Production Survey will provide needed data about the hemp industry to assist producers, regulatory agencies, state governments, processors, and other key industry entities.”
The USDA sent out mailers to the country’s 20,500 producers, but those producers also have the choice to answer the survey online instead, using a 12-digit code included in their mailer. Answering the survey is required by all producers, as according to the USDA Agricultural Research Service’s Domestic Hemp Program, and it must be completed by October 25. NASS plans to review all of the submitted data and publish the results in February 2022.
“This inaugural hemp survey will establish a necessary benchmark and provide critically-needed data for the hemp industry,” said Kevin Barnes, NASS Acting Administrator. “The information collected can help inform producers’ decisions about growing, harvesting, and selling hemp as well as the type of hemp they decide to produce. The resulting data will also foster greater understanding of the hemp production landscape across regulatory agencies, producers, state and Tribal governments, processors, and other key industry entities.”
Hemp Survey Follows This Year’s New USDA Final Rule
Earlier this year on January 19, 2021, the USDA released information regarding its final rule on hemp production, after two years of discussion. The rule took effect on March 22, 2021, and amended key text in the original 2018 Farm Bill. These new rules include:
- The 0.3 percent THC limitation where product that is less than one percent is no longer considered “negligent.”
- The immediate destruction of hemp that does not meet the 0.3 percent THC requirement to include composting, burial or burning.
- Hemp testing to be conducted by DEA-registered facilities after December 31, 2022, (when more facilities become available to serve the national demand).
- Hemp samples will be gathered 30 days after harvest (previously it was 15 days).
- The allowance of a performance-based sampling approach.
- Tribes may invoke their jurisdiction on their territory.
Two years was a lengthy amount of time to finalize these rules, but many industry members agreed it was necessary in order to establish properly researched hemp farming regulations. “It’s a process, like anything else, to legalize a new market while making sure all foreseeable hiccups are addressed at the onset of a harvest,” said Michelle Donovan, senior counsel at law firm Clark Hill. AJ Payack, the president of Vermont Organic Science, agreed that the rules will pave the way for the hemp industry.
“It’s about time that the USDA released rules for the hemp space,” said Payack. “There will be extreme testing that needs to be done on CBD products for GMP compliance. While I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing companies are going to need a lot of capital for GMP compliance.”
Meanwhile, hemp continues to be a focus for research, growth and progress. Oregon State University recently received a $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture last week. California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 45 on October 6, establishing a framework for the manufacturing and sale of hemp products such as smokable hemp, and infused foods and drinks, which went into effect immediately. In August, a Texas judge ruled the ban on smokable hemp as unconstitutional.