The hemp sector is hopeful a recent USDA request for comment on multiple pending hemp regulations means the department will suspend the requirements before they become effective at the end of next month.

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service opened a 30-day comment period recently to gather input on how plants are destroyed, hemp research, and allowable THC levels and testing — both the methods used and the requirement that plants be harvested for testing in a 15-day harvest window. Many have recommended a 30-day window.

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Patrick Atagi, board chairman of the National Industrial Hemp Council, said he hoped the comment extension means USDA is leaning toward extending the hemp pilot program from the 2014 farm bill for another year. That’s something NIHC and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture asked USDA to do last month.

Twenty-two states and 34 tribes have received approval for plans to implement the department’s 2019 rule, but the industry argues that the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed other states’ efforts to submit plans. 

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