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Industry Update: USDA Aims to Release Hemp Rules by August

Hemp was decriminalized with the passage of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, a.k.a. the "2018 Farm Bill." 

While the 2018 Farm Bill decriminalized hemp and distinguished it from marijuana, it did not resolve all regulatory concerns stemming from the plant and its derivative products.  Specifically, the United States Department of Agriculture ("USDA") was charged in the 2018 Farm Bill with developing a program for the domestic commercial production of hemp, which includes items ranging from clarifying appropriate testing and sampling methods to setting methods for disposal of plants to determining compliance with law enforcement.  The USDA's guidance will play a very significant role in defining the future of hemp in North Carolina and the rest of the United States, and we are monitoring these developments closely.

On February 27, 2019, the USDA issued a Notice to Trade stating that it had begun the process of rulemaking and that it anticipated issuing those rules and regulations by the fall of 2019, with a goal of implementing them prior to the start of the 2020 growing season.  The USDA announced this week via a notice published in the Federal Register that it intends to release its interim final rules for the establishment of a domestic hemp production program by August 2019.  This update indicates a significant acceleration in the timeline, which is great news for the industry.  It is important to note, however, that this is merely an estimated target for the release and publication of those interim final rules.  Until the USDA guidelines are in place, hemp farmers and growers should continue to operate in compliance with the Agricultural Act of 2014, a.k.a the "2014 Farm Bill", and their respective state-specific hemp program requirements.

© 2020 Ward and Smith, P.A.. All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume IX, Number 177


About this Author

Tyler Russell, Bankruptcy Attorney, Creditors Rights, Raleigh, North Carolina, Ward and Smith Law Firm
Business and Creditor's Rights Attorney

Tyler's creditors' rights practice encompasses bankruptcy, collections, and lender liability issues.  He concentrates his practice on the representation of creditors in bankruptcy cases and state court litigation, including workouts, reorganizations, Uniform Commercial Code security agreement enforcement, collections cases, and other contested matters.  Tyler has represented national and community lenders, trade creditors, equipment manufacturers, agricultural companies, community associations, contractors, and leasing companies in various reorganization and litigation proceedings. His...

Allen N. Trask III, Litigation Attorney, Ward Smith, Wilmington, North Carolina, business, civil, commercial litigation
Litigation Attorney

Allen focuses his practice on assisting those who own, manage, and invest in real estate and common interest communities.  He regularly works with real estate developers and the residential and commercial community associations that they create to handle all manner of issues, including the preparation, amendment, interpretation, and enforcement of restrictive covenants and governing corporate documents, declarant control transition and disputes, community management, insurance claims and disputes, and collections.  He also frequently represents Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) and other commercial landlords in the management of commercial investment properties, including lease negotiation and enforcement, summary ejectment, and collections. 

Allen has been a member of the firm's Litigation Practice Section since he joined the firm.  He has experience in all aspects of civil litigation, including depositions, hearings, mediations, arbitrations, trials, and appeals.  His litigation experience allows him to offer unique insight into risk and liability assessment, insurance coverage, and cost-benefit analyses, and he enjoys working with clients to proactively address these issues to reduce risk and cost.  Allen also is a member of the firm's Land Use and Zoning Practice Group, where he helps clients pursue and challenge special use permits, ordinance changes, and condemnation actions.

As an eastern North Carolina native with family farming roots, Allen has a passion for representing those who work the land.  He is the leader of the firm's Agribusiness Practice Group, where he coordinates the firm's resources to address the specialized issues facing clients in the agribusiness community, such as industrial hemp operations, farmland leases, corporate organization, restructuring, dissolution, and succession planning, equipment financing and leasing, workouts and debt restructuring, environmental regulatory compliance and permitting, and negotiations and interactions with local, state, and federal government.