Hemp Association Gets USDA Funding to Promote U.S. Hemp Globally

Hemp Association Gets USDA Funding to Promote U.S. Hemp Globally

The National Industrial Hemp Council of America (NIHC) has been awarded a significant financial boost by the USDA’s Regional Agricultural Promotion Program (RAPP) in the form of $745,000. This funding is crucial in promoting the hemp industry internationally and increasing exports to targeted markets. It comes as a much-needed relief for the industry, which is currently navigating uncertainties due to negotiations concerning amendments to the Farm Bill.

The USDA RAPP program seeks to diversify and expand U.S. agricultural and food product market opportunities to new markets. The traditional top markets are Canada, the European Union, Mexico and China. The $745,000 will be used to market hemp and hemp products to emerging markets. They include countries in Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa, where the middle class is growing.

NIHC President and CEO Patrick Atagi said,

“We extend our gratitude to the USDA for recognizing the vital role of industrial hemp in global export markets. This funding is crucial for advancing the industry through NIHC’s efforts to promote U.S. hemp as a safe, high-quality and sustainable commodity used in various products, from clothing to building materials to fuels.”

The NIHC advocates for an international regulatory framework to streamline the hemp industry’s trade, boost consumer confidence, and foster innovation.

The hemp industry is facing many uncertainties due to two House committees proposing to amend the U.S. Farm Bill that legalized consumable CBD products made from hemp. Some interpret the bills as effectively banning most CBD products by making illegal any CBD products that contain a quantifiable amount of THC. Since hemp extracts are allowed to contain up to 0.3% THC, full spectrum and broad spectrum CBD products would become illegal. There is also text that makes any cannabinoid synthesized or manufactured outside the hemp plant illegal, like delta-8 THC.

The committee sent one set of recommendations, the Mary Miller Amendment, to the House for discussion, which is expected to be postponed. However, a second set of amendments by a different committee was included in a spending bill that must be passed. These amendments are almost identical to the first committee’s recommendations. The fact that they are in a spending bill increases the probability that some or all new restrictions will become law.

Rather than making most CBD products illegal, the hemp industry’s solution is to develop regulations that ensure product safety and prevent youth access rather than destroy a whole industry. The House Appropriations Committee chair never consulted with U.S. farmers or the House Appropriations Subcommittee. The U.S. Hemp Roundtable will ask the full Appropriations Committee to remove the Mary Miller Amendment from the floor. It will also lobby the House and Senate to do the same.

Unfortunately, the hemp industry is left in even more turmoil at this time, with hemp farmers and CBD brands wondering what to do as they wait for Congress. Though the Amendments concerning CBD are intended to make THC less accessible to youth, this is certainly not a good strategy to achieve this goal. It will cut off millions of people who rely on CBD to address health and wellness issues and will harm the hemp farming industry and CBD producers.


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