If you’ve been paying attention to the airwaves, you might have realized that hemp is being discussed with a lot more frequency. After being outlawed for decades, the crop was removed from the list of controlled substances by the 2018 Farm Bill. The legislation classified cannabis with less than 0.3% THC as industrial hemp, giving farmers in all states and tribes the leeway to grow the crop under state and tribal programs.
And grow hemp they did. During the crop’s first season of legality, American farmers planted 27,424 acres of hemp, and the number has quadrupled to 128,320 acres today. With a market that’s already worth millions of dollars, experts posit that it could hit $20 billion by 2026.
However, while the market for hemp kept growing, the industry itself was going through tons of upheaval. Although the Farm Bill was instrumental in legalizing hemp, setting a legal THC limit was the extent of the legislation. Farmers growing hemp had to deal with a hostile environment that didn’t know how to cater to them.
For a while, they were denied essential services like banking and insurance as these providers didn’t know how to transact with hemp businesses, and they were afraid of any legal ramifications.
Finally, in October 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released its much-awaited interim final rule on hemp, giving the hemp sector a more comprehensive regulatory framework. However, there have been numerous complaints that the new rules are way too tough and they could spell doom for the budding hemp industry.
The state of Iowa has found a way around the USDA’s stringent rules, especially on matters of testing for THC levels. According to the new federal rule, hemp has to be harvested within 15 days of testing, and states have complained that the time frame is too short. On top of that, they would have to hire more staff and find DEA approved labs before the hemp becomes degraded.
State officials are worried that they won’t be able to test the crop quickly enough to give farmers the time they need to harvest. To combat this, they will give farmers temporary permits that would allow them to start harvesting their crops as soon as the state collects their samples, instead of waiting for the results to come back.
“They would have to tell us where their harvest is going because they’re likely going to have to start drawing it immediately,” says Robert Pruisner, State Entomologist of Iowa Department of Agriculture.
“They will have to leave it there. They will have to have it identity-preserved and they cannot change the ownership of it until that test result comes back and we allow them to release it and move with a certificate of analysis,” he adds.
This way, farmers will be able to harvest their crops in time to ensure its quality is preserved. Experts believe that such temporary permits are a welcome idea in the eyes of hemp companies like Dama Financial and MCTC Holdings Inc. (OTC: MCTC) who would like everything to be done to avert avoidable losses to farmers.
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