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Officials: USDA Hemp Regulations Are Onerous

Updated: 8/28/20 - 11:23 A.M.

VESTAL, NY (WSKG) — New York officials have decided they won’t submit a plan for regulating hemp to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) this year.

Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (D-Endwell) said this decision is a form of protest.

Lupardo has repeatedly advocated for growing the hemp industry in the Southern Tier. Federal rule changes on the licensing of hemp, however, are complicating state regulatory plans.

Lupardo said the rules are onerous, and the circumstances aren’t making things easier.

“With COVID and the budget shortfalls that we’re facing, it’s practically impossible for us to add additional staff and to do what’s needed,” Lupardo said.

Lupardo, who chairs the Assembly’s committee on agriculture, said she takes issue with the testing protocols in the new rules. She also said there are problems with what growers need to do with plants with THC levels higher than what is allowed.

“I understand the risk that’s involved with this,” the assemblywoman said. “We really are asking our farmers to be patient as we try to work this out with the federal government.”

In a letter to industrial hemp growers written by the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets, officials said they have asked the USDA to extend its current hemp regulations until 2021.

“I feel it is a protest gesture and hopefully it will get on the radar of the federal government to, in addition to the other states that could not do this, give us an extension,” Lupardo said.

Lupardo said she expects a change in the federal government may be friendlier to New York’s hemp industry.*

*The headline of this story has been updated to better reflect the concerns of New York officials.