One of the largest farm organizations in the USA has called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to raise the allowable level of THC for industrial hemp from 0.3% to a full 1 percent.
Delegates to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s (AFBF) national convention last week voted in favor of the policy proposal, which also would lengthen by threefold the time allowed to harvest fields after THC tests are complete.
“As USDA finalizes the regulations relating to hemp, our delegates have called for slight revisions there that we think will improve the program,” AFBF vice president Scott VanderWal said.
Growers in many parts of the USA have struggled to keep their crops under the 0.3 THC limit. More than 40% of hemp from fields in Arizona that were recently tested for THC content proved to be “hot” – over the legal threshold; 670 acres of hemp deemed non-compliant in that state resulted in about $13.4 million in losses, state officials estimated. Farmers in other states have suffered similar problems.
While the 0.3% THC limit is most commonly observed around the world, some nations are trending toward the full 1% benchmark. Thailand, Uruguay, Switzerland and Australia are among those countries who have pushed up allowable THC levels in recent years, giving them an advantage in the burgeoning markets for CBD and hemp foods. Europe lags the global hemp industry with a 0.2 THC limit, a situation the European Industrial Hemp Association is working to change.
Longer harvest period sought
U.S. growers also have said the current 15-day harvest limit is too short, considering test results can take as long as a week to be reported, forcing them to rush harvesting. AFBF proposed the harvest period be expanded to 45 days.
USDA proposed regulations for hemp last fall after passage of the U.S. Farm bill in December 2018 that made hemp a legal crop; a comment period on the rules ends tomorrow.
Delegates to the AFBF convention also supported provisions that would:
- Allow “hot” crops to be used for textiles, fuel, or livestock bedding; farmers must now go to the expense of collecting and destroying such over-the-limit material.
- Expand THC testing to any accredited laboratory; current rules require those tests to be carried out only by DEA-approved labs.
- Exempt hemp grown for nonhuman consumption from THC testing entirely.