The Environmental Protection Agency will consider adding industrial hemp to the allowable uses for 10 pesticide active ingredients, the agency announced Wednesday.

A major concern among farmers interested in growing the crop, which was legalized in the 2018 farm bill, has been a dearth of crop protection products. There are currently no pesticides registered by EPA specifically for use on cannabis.

EPA released a prepublication version of the Federal Register notice to be published in the coming days. The public will have 30 days to comment when it hits the Federal Register.

All of the products being considered for use on hemp “contain active ingredients for which EPA previously determined the residues will be safe under any reasonably foreseeable circumstances,” the Federal Register notice says. The agency has “established tolerance exemptions, as indicated below, for those residues in or on all raw agricultural or food commodities.”

“We hope this transparent and public process will bring hemp farmers and researchers increased regulatory clarity in time for next growing season — something they have asked for since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill and the legalization of commercial hemp,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in an EPA news release.

EPA announced the action at the Hemp Production Field Day at the University of Kentucky.

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles and University of Kentucky hemp researcher Bob Pearce praised EPA’s action, with Pearce calling it a welcome first step on the path to registration of safe and effective crop protection agents for a rapidly expanding hemp enterprise."

At 15,000 acres planted this year, Kentucky ranks third among the states in planted acreage of hemp. The leader, with 39,000 acres, is Montana, followed by Colorado with 19,000 acres.

“Once public comments are received, EPA anticipates deciding about the possible use of the specified products on hemp before the end of 2019 to help growers make informed purchasing choices for the upcoming growing season,” EPA said. “Moving forward, EPA will review, approve or deny applications for use on hemp as the agency would for any other use site.”

EPA said in the notice that "for future pesticide registration applications that are similar to these applications and that are expected to be submitted with more regularity, EPA is not planning to notify the public of their receipt."

The active ingredients under consideration include a few examples of the same products mixed together at different levels. All ingredients are biopesticides except for Potassium Salts of Fatty Acids, are:

  • Azadirachtin and Neem Oil, Agro Logistic Systems. Insecticide, Miticide, Fungicide, and Nematicide.
  • Azadirachtin and Neem Oil, Agro Logistic Systems. Insecticide, Miticide, Fungicide, and Nematicide.
  • Azadirachtin and Neem Oil, Agro Logistic Systems. Insecticide, Miticide, Fungicide, and Nematicide.
  • Neem Oil, Agro Logistic Systems. Insecticide, Miticide, and Fungicide.
  • Extract of Reynoutria sachalinensis, Marrone Bio Innovations. Fungicide and Fungistat.
  • Bacillus amyloliquefaciens strain F727, Marrone Bio Innovations. Fungicide.
  • Soybean Oil, Garlic Oil, and Capsicum Oleoresin Extract, Hawthorne Hydroponics. Insecticide and Repellent.
  • Potassium Salts of Fatty Acids, Hawthorne Hydroponics. Insecticide, Fungicide, and Miticide. 
  • Bacillus amyloliquefaciens strain D747, Hawthorne Hydroponics. Fungicide and Bactericide. 
  • Azadirachtin, Hawthorne Hydroponics. Insect Growth Regulator and Repellent.

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