As the nation waits for the White House to approve the draft USDA hemp rules so that the agency can publish them, the members of the industry have spoken out about the key things that they would like to see in the rules. We cover some of those priorities in the discussion below.
THC Testing Clarity
Currently, each state has its own patchwork of rules governing how hemp is to be tested for THC. This lack of uniformity has created a real possibility that a crop cleared in one jurisdiction can be tested in another state and is declared to be marijuana.
The industry therefore hopes that the USDA will come up with a testing protocol that will standardize how all states test for THC so that the issues arising from different testing protocols are eliminated.
Guidance on Seed Certification
Many farmers are likely to get their fingers burned because they sourced hemp seed from all sorts of places. Some of that seed is likely to result in failed crops, and this will come at a huge cost to hemp farmers since no insurance cover is currently available.
The industry would be helped greatly if the USDA came up with rules that set out the specific requirements that have to be met for an entity to be certified as a seed developer. In this way, farmers will be sure that the seed they buy is of high quality and has the potential to give them the kind of harvest that they expect.
Soil Quality Standards
Hemp is known to be a phytoremediator. These are crops which absorb heavy metals and other contaminants from the soil. It is important for the USDA to establish rules on soil testing and other related standards so that any hemp that is going to be used for making products for human or animal consumption is only grown in soil that meets certain minimum standards. Otherwise, if contaminated soil is used to grow hemp, the potentially hazardous materials in that soil can easily end up being consumed.
Guidance on Water Rights
Some water boards have been charging hemp growers at the same rates that they charge growers of marijuana. This has made growing hemp very costly in states like Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and California. If the USDA rules stipulate that hemp is an agricultural crop and should therefore be treated in the same way as other cash crops, then water boards will levy normal irrigation water rates and the industry will benefit.
Hemp industry experts see the issues above as pertinent, and they believe that industry participants like Neutra Corp. (OTCQB: NTRR) and Organigram Holdings Inc. (TSX: OGI) (NASDAQ: OGI) could have heard these concerns being expressed by the farmers that they have interacted with.
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