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USDA Rule Won’t Yet Impact Hawai‘i Hemp Production

November 3, 2019, 8:16 AM HST
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Fibers from a stalk of hemp. Public domain image.

The newly developed US Domestic Hemp Production Program will effect now immediate changes on hemp being grown in Hawai‘i.

US Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently established the program through an Interim Final Rule in accordance with the 2018 Farm Bill. The Interim Final Rule will not immediately impact industrial hemp that was or is being cultivated under the 2014 Farm Bill programs, including Hawai‘i’s Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program, according to a Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture press release.

The new rule outlines provisions for the USDA to approve plans submitted by states and tribes for the domestic production of hemp. It also establishes a federal plan for producers in states or territories of tribes that do not have their own USDA-approved plan, the release said.

“Through the pilot program, there has been significant interest by existing and potential farmers in growing hemp in Hawai‘i,” said Phyllis Shimabukuro-Geiser, chairperson of the Hawai‘i Board of Agriculture. “The department is examining the new federal regulations and will continue to develop a program to ensure future commercial production of hemp in Hawai‘i.”

With the release of the USDA Interim Final Rule, HDOA anticipates legislative action aligned with USDA’s direction to provide the statutory authority and resources necessary for Hawai‘i’s hemp growers to transition from the current pilot program to commercial production.

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In the interim, HDOA continues to prepare a plan for submission to USDA and to run Hawai‘i’s Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program in accordance with the 2014 Farm Bill and current state law, the release said.

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There are currently 36 industrial hemp growers licensed in the state under the pilot program.

For more information on the Interim Final Rule and instructions on how the public may submit comments to USDA, go online. The public comment period is open until Dec. 30, 2019.

For information on Hawaii’s Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program, visit the HDOA website.

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