NB_300_19_29 - NB 300-19-29 LTP - Assisting Producers on Agricultural Operations Under Industrial Hemp Cultivation
NB 300-19-29 LTP - Assisting Producers on Agricultural Operations Under Industrial Hemp Cultivation
National Bulletin: NB 300-19-29      Date: May 22, 2019  
Subject: LTP - Assisting Producers on Agricultural Operations Under Industrial Hemp Cultivation


 
Purpose.  This bulletin clarifies guidance regarding NRCS technical and financial assistance to producers who are engaged in industrial hemp production, notwithstanding whether the State in which the activities are occurring has legalized its commercial production.      
 
Expiration Date.  September 30, 2019
 
Background.  When States began legalizing marijuana a few years ago, NRCS worked with the Office of the General Counsel (OGC) to describe the parameters under which NRCS as a Federal agency could and could not provide assistance to producers who were either involved in growing cannabis (including hemp) or had cannabis growing on their property by related or unrelated third parties.  In addition, Congress provided a legal exemption for the cultivation of industrial hemp under Section 7606 of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (the 2014 Farm Bill). 

 

NRCS may provide assistance, both technical and financial, to a producer who is growing and cultivating industrial hemp for research purposes in accordance with the restrictions identified in Section 7606 of the 2014 Farm Bill.  However, if a producer’s industrial hemp cultivation does not comply with Section 7606, NRCS cannot provide financial or technical assistance as more fully described below.

 

The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill) has identified that industrial hemp is no longer a controlled substance and that a legal framework will be established for the lawful production of industrial hemp.  The 2018 Farm Bill directed USDA to develop a program for review of plans submitted by States, territories, or Indian Tribes outlining their production of hemp for commercial purposes. 

 

Explanation.  Until 1 year after USDA issues its regulation regarding the review of plans submitted by States, territories, or Indian Tribes, activities authorized under section 7606 of the 2014 Farm Bill remain in effect.  In particular, producers who are in compliance with section 7606 of the 2014 Farm Bill may participate in our conservation programs and NRCS will provide these producers both technical and financial assistance. 

 

However, the production of commercial industrial hemp remains restricted under Federal law until the new legal framework is established through USDA regulation and the applicable plan approved.  It thus remains restricted under Federal law for most producers to cultivate hemp. 

 

Therefore, NRCS will not provide technical assistance or financial assistance for any field where nonexempt industrial hemp, marijuana, or other controlled substance is grown in violation of Federal law, even if the cultivation is lawful under State law and even if the producer requesting assistance is not responsible for its production.  Additionally, NRCS will not provide any financial assistance to any producer who is producing nonexempt industrial hemp or marijuana, or is engaged in controlled substance activities on any part of their agricultural operation in violation of Federal law, even if the requested assistance does not relate to the field or other part of the agricultural operation that is under the unlawful production of controlled substances. 

 

Current conservation program participants who produce nonexempt industrial hemp or marijuana, or who engage in controlled substance activities on any part of their agricultural operation, are in violation of the terms of their conservation program contract, and such violations must be handled in accordance with conservation program contract guidance at Title 440, Conservation Programs Manual, Part 512, Subpart H. 

 

Once the new framework for commercial hemp production is established, NRCS will update this guidance with respect to the scope of NRCS technical and financial assistance on lands under commercial hemp production.

 
Contact.  Questions regarding this bulletin should be directed to Martha Joseph, senior policy advisor, at martha.joseph@usda.gov  or (814) 203-5562.
 
 


 /s/

JIMMY BRAMBLETT

Deputy Chief for Programs

 

 
     
[NB_300_19_29 - ]