NB_300_19_37 - NB 300-19-37 LTP – Assisting Producers on Agricultural Operations Under Industrial Hemp Cultivation
NB 300-19-37 LTP – Assisting Producers on Agricultural Operations Under Industrial Hemp Cultivation
National Bulletin: 300-19-37 Date: September 16, 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, 2020
 
Background.  NRCS issued National Bulletin (NB) 300-19-29 on May 22, 2019, to clarify NRCS policy on assistance to producers growing industrial hemp on their agricultural operations in light of changes made by the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill). As identified in NB 300-19-29, 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 Agricultural Act of 2014 (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.

Section 10113 of the 2018 Farm Bill amended the Agriculture Marketing Act of 1946, directing USDA to develop a program for review of plans submitted by States, territories, or Indian Tribes outlining their production of hemp for commercial purposes. However, while the 2018 Farm Bill identified that industrial hemp is no longer a controlled substance and that USDA is to establish the framework for the review of State, territory, and Indian plans, as of the date of this bulletin such USDA framework has not yet been established. Therefore, NRCS employees are to continue to follow the policy as identified in NB 300-19-29 until the legal framework for the lawful production of industrial hemp has been established and NRCS has issued new policy guidance.           
 

Explanation.  Producers who are in compliance with Section 7606 of the 2014 Farm Bill may participate in NRCS 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. It thus remains restricted under Federal law for most producers to cultivate hemp.

NRCS will not provide technical or financial assistance for any field where industrial hemp is not being grown in accordance with the Section 7606 exemption (non-exempt industrial hemp), 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 non-exempt industrial hemp on any part of their agricultural operation, 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 industrial hemp.

 
Current conservation program participants who produce non-exempt industrial hemp 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.

 
Once the new framework for hemp production is established by the Secretary under the authorities of the 2018 Farm Bill, NRCS will update this guidance under the scope of NRCS technical and financial assistance on lands under industrial hemp production.

 
Notwithstanding any changes to the framework for hemp production, NRCS policy on NRCS assistance to producers of marijuana or other controlled substances will remain the same; namely, NRCS will not provide technical or financial assistance for any field where marijuana or other controlled substances are being produced, even if the producer requesting assistance is not responsible for its production. Additionally, NRCS will not provide any financial assistance to any producers of marijuana or other controlled substances on any part of their agricultural operation, 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 marijuana or other controlled substances.    

 
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  

 
 
  
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