A Senate hearing Thursday on industrial hemp has underscored the difficulty of the task facing federal agencies trying to implement provisions of the 2018 farm bill so growers will be able to plant hemp next spring.

One of the biggest obstacles facing growers is getting FDA to legalize the use of cannabidiol, or CBD, in food and dietary supplements. And FDA’s principal deputy commissioner of food and drugs, Amy Abernethy, told the Senate Ag Committee that her agency must investigate “the potential safety implications of long-term use of CBD by different human and animal populations.”

FDA is trying to expedite regulations on hemp and CBD, but first must sift through more than 4,000 comments it received during a recent public comment period.

Having crop protection tools is crucial for hemp growers as well, Kentucky hemp grower Brian Furnish told the committee. There currently is no herbicide, insecticide or fungicide approved for use on hemp.

EPA’s assistant administrator for chemical safety and prevention, Alexandra Dunn, said her agency has received 10 requests from pesticide registrants to add hemp to already existing labels.

An interim final rule from USDA is now under interagency review at the Office of Management and Budget. Greg Ibach, undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs, said he expected the rule to be out by early to mid-fall.

Source: AgriMarketing