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USDA Secretary Testifies Before Congress on IFR Implementation

USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue recently testified before both the House and the Senate, providing some insight into the drafting and implementation of the Interim Final Rule and the recent Enforcement Discretion Guidance.

House Committee on Agriculture

On March 4, Secretary Perdue testified on The State of the Rural Economy before the House Committee on Agriculture. To start at the relevant portion of the Hearing click here.

Rep. Al Lawson (D-FL), asked the Secretary about IFR testing requirements, specifially that , “USDA hemp total testing requirements to test for .3% THC making it difficult for new hemp crops to pass the test.”

Secretary Perdue responded: “Frankly the testing and the limitations had a lot of impact from DEA and the Interagency and they were not excited about the crop as a whole anyway and we had some pretty serious constraints so were trying to address the lab issue which was a real limitation.”

These remarks came as no surprise to AgHS, as we have expressed to USDA our concerns about the numerous references to DEA throughout the IFR.

Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture

On March 12, Secretary Perdue testified before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Hearing. For the relevant portions of the Hearing listen to minutes 46:42 to 49:07, as well as at 1:31:31 to 1:36:11. Senator Jeff Merkely (D-OR) aksed Secreatry Perdue numerous questions about the status of IFR and the development of final rules. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) concurred with Senator Merkley’s inquiry and urged USDA to get it right.

Senator Merkley: …The USDA is going through a 2 year process of evaluating the information on the interim rule to develop a final plan. Is it appropriate to refer to this interim rule as a draft plan given the evolving changes?…

Secretary Perdue: …I would functionally say it’s a draft plan. This is a very unique crop as you know, we were learning as were going and we tried to nail it best we could. We had some push back as I indicated in other agencies but I would think your characterization as a draft is a good one...

…My preference would be to resolve these issues from our federal rule if we can by the 2021 growing season, certainly from the Oregon’s and Kentuckys that have experience with this crop…

We note for our readers that the 2018 Farm Bill provides:

Section 7605 (b) REPEAL.—Effective on the date that is 1 year after the date on which the Secretary establishes a plan under section 297C of the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946, section 7606 of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (7 U.S.C. 5940) is repealed. —  2018 Farm Bill language

AgHS is grateful for Senator Merkley’s continued advocacy on behalf of the domestic Hemp Industry, and for the clarification from Secretary Perdue on the draft status of the IFR.

Contact us to learn more about joining the Campaign and how we will use Secreatry Perdue’s testimony to help advance federal hemp policy!

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