The hemp industry continues to get clarity from federal regulators.
On Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency announced the approval of 10 pesticide products for hemp in time for the 2020 growing season. Of those approved, 9 are biopesticides, (derived from natural materials), and one is a “conventional pesticide.” (Read the full list here.)
Since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp, the nascent industry has been looking to federal regulators for rules, primarily from a trio of agencies that will have a major role in the future of the industry: the EPA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which released a hemp interim rule in October, and the Food and Drug Administration. The industry awaits the FDA’s rules on cannabinoids in food, due any day now.
Jonathan Miller, general counsel for the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, told Cannabis Wire that the organization is “grateful” to the EPA for “taking critical action to empower U.S. hemp growers by ensuring the development of products that protect crops from weeds and pests.”
Miller added, “Hemp presents an exciting new agricultural commodity, and the EPA’s action will help provide farmers with the tools they need to seize this opportunity.”
In the EPA’s announcement, agency administrator Andrew Wheeler said, “With common-sense actions, we are protecting the health of our nation and ensuring that crops such as corn, sorghum, sugar cane and hemp can be protected against a broad spectrum of weeds and pests.”
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said in a statement, “EPA’s actions today help support American farmers’ efforts to grow hemp just in time for the first growing season.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been one of the loudest supporters of the hemp industry in Congress, due in no small part to the impact hemp growing has had in his home state of Kentucky. McConnell said in a statement that officials have “learned a lot about hemp” since hemp pilot programs were created in 2014.
“By approving several biopesticides for use in hemp cultivation—especially as Kentucky’s hemp farmers prepare for the 2020 growing season—Administrator Wheeler is helping deliver much-needed tools for our farmers,” McConnell said. “Hemp producers across the country are looking to Kentucky for our expertise and leadership with this exciting crop, and I’m committed to helping our farmers, processors and manufacturers take full advantage of hemp’s potential.”