04.18.19

Vermont Farmers Can Now Grow Hemp This Season

Thanks To The Efforts Of Leahy And Tester,
Vermont Farmers Can Now Grow Hemp This Season

. . . senators successfully push USDA and CBP to allow producers to import hemp seeds from Canada in time for planting season

(THURSDAY, April 18, 2019) -- After a weeks-long effort, Senator Jon Tester (D-Montana) and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) have successfully pushed the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to allow producers in Vermont, Montana and other states to import hemp seeds from Canada — just in time for spring planting.

Leahy said:  “This was an avoidable problem.  This solution comes none too soon, but it does come just in time for Vermont farmers who plan to grow hemp this season.”

Leahy and Tester have been pushing for a solution through their roles on the Senate Appropriations Committee, where Leahy is the Vice Chairman.  Leahy also is a leading member of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Farmers have been growing hemp through a limited pilot program since 2014, because the crop was still considered a controlled substance until late last year.  In December, Leahy and Tester helped pass the 2018 Farm Bill, which removed hemp from the Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) list of controlled substances, making it legal to grow industrial hemp in the United States — pending USDA’s approval.

But as hemp changed jurisdiction from DEA to USDA, neither agency had provided a new legal pathway for U.S. producers to import hemp seed from Canada, where a majority of Vermont’s crop still originates. Without action among executive branch agencies, hemp producers in Vermont and other states have been in limbo as planting season begins. With USDA punting its hemp decisions until later this year — and DEA’s removal from regulating industrial hemp — Tester and Leahy turned to CBP to ensure that farmers have enough time to purchase, clean, and plant hemp seeds this spring.

And now, while these guidelines are still being finalized, CBP this week has agreed to allow distributors to transport hemp seeds across the Northern Border in the coming days, and USDA has communicated to its Canadian counterparts new guidelines for hemp seed imports.

Here is a LINK to a letter by Tester and Leahy to CBP Acting Commissioner Sanders: https://www.leahy.senate.gov/download/2019-04-16-leahy-tester-letter-to-cbp-re-northern-boarder-hemp-imports

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