Department urges USDA to revise harvest timelines and negligent violation caps

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig announced that the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship has submitted comments to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service on the Establishment of a Domestic Hemp Production Program interim final rule (IFR).

“The Department is fielding questions about hemp production in Iowa every day. Producers are interested in purchasing hemp seed and obtaining a license in time for the 2020 growing season,” said Secretary Naig. “There are some uncertainties and inconsistencies in the federal regulatory framework and those issues need to be addressed. There must be a uniform and predictable set of standards for hemp producers and regulators across the country so growers have the opportunity to be successful.”

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is encouraging the USDA AMS to:

Extend the sampling and harvest timeline from 15 days to 21 days.Require that all official hemp testing laboratories are ISO-17025 accredited to ensure they are held to the same quality, safety and efficiency standards.Increase the negligent violation range from 0.3 – 0.5 percent to 0.3 – 2.0 percent THC.Allow states to determine the appropriate duration of periodic corrective action plan reports based on the severity of the infractions.Work with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to provide direction to states on how to properly dispose of non-compliant cannabis crops.Allow states to work directly with local law enforcement, instead of DEA reverse distributors, to order and carry out the destruction of non-compliant cannabis crops.

To read the full comment letter, visit

The Department submitted its plan to license and regulate the production of hemp in Iowa to USDA on Dec. 11, 2019. The USDA has 60 days to review and provide feedback. It is not legal to grow, possess, buy or sell hemp in Iowa until the USDA approves the state plan and the Department publishes notice of the approval in the Iowa Administrative Bulletin.

Growers are advised to do their research and confirm there is a viable, profitable market for commercial hemp production before they make an investment in plant genetics and equipment.

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