Local hemp farmers seek delay in new restrictions

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Federal lawmakers and local hemp farmers are asking the USDA to delay implementation of additional regulations they say would crush the budding industry in the midst of a national economic crisis.

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Senator Chuck Schumer said the newest rule within the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program would require states to alter their current Pilot Program budgets to meet new standard. According to USDA calculations, compliance costs alone would be $17,363.40 and testing would add over $700 per sample.

Industry advocates like Allan Gandelman, president of the New York Cannabis Growers and Processors Association and co-owner of Main Street farms in Cortland, have asked for an extension of the current pilot program until 2022.

“There are over 700 registered hemp farmers across New York who would be negatively affected by the USDA’s Interim Final Rule on hemp,” said Gandelman. “The costs and bureaucracy of implementing the new rules as written create unnecessary financial burdens on farmers and our state agencies. The existing hemp pilot program has been sufficient in making sure farmers are complaint with all testing and public safety protocols.”

Gandelman and the NYCGPA are also calling for the USDA to consider hemp an ‘agricultural commodity’ as stipulated under the 2018 Farm Bill.

Senator Schumer is one of the leaders pushing that call in congress.

Prior to the pandemic, Schumer said the industrial hemp industry had begun to show significant growth in New York, adding a considerable number of good-paying jobs and bringing in significant revenue to the state.

However, operating under the full benefits of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp farmers have reported difficulty integrating the Interim Final Rules into their operations.

“When it comes to an industry as promising as industrial hemp in Upstate New York, the feds must do everything they can to nurture its potential,” Sen. Schumer said. “Regulating this rapidly-emerging industry is a must, but the timing of new regulations is important and the current economic crisis must be considered,” said Senator Schumer.

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