- The SBA is urging the USDA to extend their public comment period for the interim final ruling on hemp production from 30 days to 60.
- The extension request comes in the form of a letter that also touches on some of the unique challenges that hemp producers have faced this year amid the pandemic.
- This letter from the SBA goes hand-in-hand with state and national lawmakers who have been urging the USDA to extend the rules of the 2014 pilot hemp program that expired at the beginning of this month.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue received a letter this morning from the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of Advocacy. The federal agency wrote to Perdue in an attempt to urge agriculture officials to allow the public more time to comment on the proposed national hemp production rules.
The SBA is stating that the original 30 days that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) allotted for public comment on the interim final ruling for the production of hemp was not enough time and is asking that the comment period be extended to 60 days.
The letter also states that the SBA had heard from hemp producers in several different states, all of whom were concerned about the length of the public comment period.
One of the primary concerns of the SBA is that many growers will not be able to manage their business and provide detailed comments that are needed for interim final rules; especially with some producers already in the middle of harvest.
The SBA says that “it is prudent that the agency wait until the conclusion of the harvest period at which point producers will have a clear picture of how the process works from start to finish.”
This would then allow farmers to “provide complete information about costs, production yield, and overall revenue.”
The SBA also made mention of the Coronavirus, highlighting the additional strains the pandemic has put on hemp producers. Unique challenges the SBA noted for hemp producers includes:
- Delays in shipping and transport
- Labor challenges
- Difficulty balancing life with farming
Running Out of Time
The USDA and other agricultural officials will need to make a decision soon. The 2014 pilot hemp program and its rules expired on the first of September, and the 2018 Farm Bill has yet to be enacted.
This now creates issues for several farmers, many of which are in the middle of harvest. If a resolution is not reached, then many hemp producers will be faced with even greater financial obstacles than what the pandemic has faced them with.
Thanks for reading, and stay safe out there.