Last week, the U.S. House Agriculture Committee heard from a number of hemp farmers as the panel sought input on hemp policy, NY1 reports. The hearing, “An Examination of the USDA Hemp Production Program” comes more than a year after provisions of the Farm Bill signed by former President Donald Trump (R) are set to expire.
Del. Stacey Plaskett (D-U.S. Virgin Islands), chair of the Agriculture Subcommittee on the Examination of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Hemp Production program, described the hearing as an opportunity for the panel to hear what lawmakers “can do to ensure the continued growth and development of this re-surging crop.”
“The Subcommittee received requests for greater market certainty and stability for farmers, producers, and consumers of the hemp industry. We also heard about industry successes, which include creating space for market diversification as well as addressing gaps and limits in the supply chain, including processing and manufacturing, increasing production capacity, and strengthening the links between the supply chain.” — Plaskett, in a statement, via NY1
During the hearing, the committee heard from business owners who said the CBD industry would grow if the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) were to regulate the production of the products federally. Dr. Ryan F. Quarles, Kentucky’s Commissioner of Agriculture, testified that were the agency to give state officials “more direction,” it would likely lead to “more private sector investment products” and “many well-known consumer brands” with “a tremendous interest in hemp products.”
Chase Terwilliger, CEO of Balanced Health Botanicals, told NY1 that the nation’s biggest retailers – Walmart, Kroger, Albertsons, Safeway – don’t sell CBD products because of the lack of FDA approval.
Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) said “bureaucratic red tape” is responsible for slowing down the industry in her state.
“I’ve talked to some producers in Maine who have problems where their employees are struggling to get fingerprints that are acceptable by the FBI for criminal history reports,” she said during her remarks.
Members of the panel could introduce legislation to require the FDA to create rules and regulations for hemp or have those recommendations included in the next iteration of the Farm Bill.
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