SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This rule is issued under the authority of section 10113 of the 2018 Farm Bill (Pub. L. 115-334; December 20, 2018), which amended the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946, as previously amended (7 U.S.C. 1621 et seq.) (AMA), by adding Subtitle G (sections 297A through 297E). Section 297B of the AMA requires the Secretary of Agriculture (Secretary) to evaluate and approve or disapprove State or Tribal plans regulating the production of hemp. Section 297C of the AMA requires the Secretary to establish a Federal plan for producers in States and territories of Indian Tribes not covered by plans approved under section 297B. Section 297D of the AMA requires the Secretary to promulgate regulations and guidelines relating to the production of hemp under sections 297B and 297C in consultation with the U.S. Attorney General. AMS issued an interim final rule (IFR) on October 31, 2019 (84 FR 58522), and began its initial implementation of the program.
To date, USDA has approved approximately 45 State and Tribal hemp plans. However, not all of the States and Tribes have implemented their plans for various reasons, including the need to take additional steps to complete State legislative or rulemaking processes or to establish the regulatory scheme as well as the extension of the 2014 Farm Bill Program.
Thus, as of November 2020, twenty States and nine Tribes have submitted reports on their respective programs. Based on the reports submitted by States and Tribes in 2020, producers have planted 6,166 acres under the 2018 Farm Bill hemp plans, of which approximately 730 acres were subject to disposal. As of the effective date of this final rule, the interim final rule is superseded. This final rule replaces the IFR at 7 CFR part 990, effective March 22, 2021.
The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), which has been delegated authority to administer the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program, provided multiple opportunities for public comment. AMS accepted comments during an initial comment period from October 31, 2019, through December 31, 2019. This initial comment period was extended for an additional 30 days on December 18, 2019 (84 FR 69295), ending January 29, 2020. AMS reopened the comment period for 30 additional days on September 8, 2020 (85 FR 55363), ending October 8, 2020.
A total of approximately 5,900 comments were received during all comment periods from States; Indian Tribes; industry and agricultural organizations; private citizens; members of Congress, the scientific community; agencies; and individuals involved in the growing, processing, transporting and marketing of hemp.
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