The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) is focusing its 2024 Farm Bill efforts toward several specific policy areas, and one of them is hemp.
At a federal level in the USA, hemp is legally defined as the plant species Cannabis sativa L. with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis. Over that 0.3 percent level and hemp is considered marijuana, which is currently illegal in the eyes of the feds.
This creates significant challenges for farmers in terms of choice of varieties and increased risk of a crop being “hot” (above the THC threshold) and subject to destruction and perhaps even criminal charges. For this and other reasons, hemp remains a risky business.
In 2021, NASDA formalised its support for increasing hemp maximum THC levels to 1%. While that is total THC concentration and not just delta-9, hemp is very low in other THC compounds. The pursuit of 1% remains NASDA policy today in the leadup to the 2024 Farm Bill.
“NASDA recommends amending the federal definition of hemp to increase the total THC concentration to one percent or less,” says the organisation’s 2024 Farm Bill wish-list. “Increasing the THC concentration to one percent would enable farmers to plant more seed varieties. This action also retains limits on THC concentration while giving farmers greater assurance their crop will be viable.”
NASDA has some extra time up its sleeve for lobbying on this and other Farm Bill issues. On Nov. 16, 2023, US President Joe Biden signed into law an Act extending the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill). This extension allows authorized programs to continue through Sept. 30, 2024.
“NASDA implores Congress to expedite passage of a unified farm bill that secures a commitment to American agriculture, notably its farmers and ranchers, and the critical food and nutritional assistance programs for those who need it most.”
NASDA has been active on the hemp front for decades. It adopted a policy on hemp in September 2002, and since that time the organisation’s members have voted in favor of six NASDA action items supporting the growth of the industry and uniform standards for the crop.