USDA clarifies hemp seed rules

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Hemp seed access is more flexible than some farmers may have known

The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp cultivation, but there has still been a serious amount of confusion regarding what is, and isn’t, acceptable. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has helped clear the air a little, clarifying a major point last Friday that should make hemp farmers a little less stressed.

According to the USDA, it is legal to import hemp seeds from outside the country, and the Justice Department can’t do anything about it. In a notice from the USDA last Friday, it stated that the Farm Bill “removed hemp and hemp seeds from DEA authority for products containing THC levels not greater than 0.3 percent” and that the Drug Enforcement Authority (DEA) “no longer has authority to require hemp seed permits for import purposes.”

It added, “U.S. producers and hemp seed exporters have requested assistance from USDA to provide an avenue for hemp seed exports to the United States. The U.S. Department of Agriculture regulates the importation of all seeds for planting to ensure safe agricultural trade. Under this authority, USDA is providing an alternative way for the safe importation of hemp seeds into the United States.”

Apparently, the DEA had starting preventing farmers in Montana from importing hemp seeds, which led to a request for clarification from the USDA. The department clarified the situation, stating:

“Hemp seeds can be imported into the United States from Canada if accompanied by either: 1) a phytosanitary certification from Canada’s national plant protection organization to verify the origin of the seed and confirm that no plant pests are detected; or 2) a Federal Seed Analysis Certificate (SAC, PPQ Form 925) for hemp seeds grown in Canada.

“Hemp seeds may be imported into the United States from countries other than Canada if accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate from the exporting country’s national plant protection organization to verify the origin of the seed and confirm that no plant pests are detected.

“Hemp seed shipments may be inspected upon arrival at the first port of entry by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to ensure USDA regulations are met, including certification and freedom from plant pests.”