USDA Suggests Hemp Farmers Pay Promotions Fee

On Monday, a top official working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Heather Pichelman, while addressing the growers for the first time since the unveiling of the national regulations said that the hemp industry is interested in paying fees to promote the crop. She further said the idea of the promotional fees is to ensure that the industry is not left behind as various opportunities arise.

Although Pichelman did not comment on any rule changes being considered by the USDA, she urged farmers to review the interim final rules published the previous week by the agency.

She also said that it is essential for the farmers to voice their opinions regarding the rules by the USDA. They should also point out the policies they agree with and those that need to be changed.

Pichelman’s remarks came a week after the USDA published 161pages of hemp production rules. The rules outlined how hemp is to be grown and tested for THC concentration. They also give the requirements for the 2020 hemp growing season, among other issues.

The Hemp Industries Association held a conference in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Pichelman was one of the speakers. During her presentation, she said that she would not comment on the new rules or the way they will be implemented. Instead, she talked of how the USDA plans on helping farmers market the crop.

After the publication of the new regulations, new opportunities arose for national research and marketing programs under the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), which is also called the checkoff program.

The promotion division in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is led by Pichelman, who urged farmers, stakeholders, and business people to submit their comments to the agency before the December 30 deadline. She explained that the comments could be a question or an opinion.

She further said the agency takes the comments seriously as it reads every comment to understand how the rules are affecting hemp industry members.

Pichelman said that if hemp industry members have a problem with the comment duration or need to talk to someone within the USDA, they can contact her.

The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is responsible for promoting 21 different agricultural industries, and these include blueberries and hass avocados. Government marketing program assessments are a must for those companies that qualify; however, the promotional fee is not imposed until all the stakeholders are in favor.

The reason why Pichelman talked about the checkoff tax at the conference is that the hemp industry expressed an interest in the national research and promotion program, said Pichelman.

First, the AMS will talk with hemp industry stakeholders, and then develop a proposal on how the crop can be marketed before the promotions tax is imposed. It remains to be seen what hemp industry companies like The Green Organic Dutchman Holdings Ltd. (TSX: TGOD) (OTCQX: TGODF) and Organigram Holdings Inc. (TSX: OGI) (NASDAQ: OGI) think of this proposed tax intended to promote the hemp industry.

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