Founder Expresses Need for Organic Hemp Certification
Founder Annie Rouse attended the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) Public Meeting on April 25th to discuss the need for organic hemp certification.
NOSB Public Meeting
The NOSB meets semi-annually to hear comments from the public in regards to the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Organic Certification. Individuals sign up in advance to express their comments, concerns, and suggestions for the organic program.The individual has complete control of the microphone for three minutes.
Rouse presented comments in regards to the USDA’s organic hemp certification instructions released on February 16th, 2016. During the meeting Rouse suggested that the USDA permit organic certification of industrial hemp for three reasons:
Section 7606 of the 2014 Farm Bill permits industrial hemp growth for research purposes and at pilot scales and the 2016 Omnibus Bill prohibits federal funding from “prohibit(ing) the transportation, processing, sale or use of industrial hemp that is grown or cultivated in accordance…”
a. Rouse discussed that the USDA’s instructions do not follow the Farm Bill’s structure and the instructions are prohibiting robust economic research on the sale of U.S. organic hemp. Rouse argued that the Kentucky Hemp Research Foundation launched a GoOrganic! Program to help farmers transition to organics with hemp, but farmers had a lack of interest if organic certification was not possible.
The last subsection of the instructions sent to the general public state that “no private or governmental entity accredited as a certifying agent under this subpart shall exclude from participation in or deny the benefits of the National Organic Program to any person due to discrimination because of… national origin.”
a. Rouse argued that the USDA’s stance is in violation of their own General Requirements for Accreditation because the instructions cause certifying agents to discriminate against U.S. organic hemp growers and processors based on their national origin.
Canadian organic hemp is considered USDA organic, so why can’t U.S. hemp?
a. The current stance favors international imports and squashes a fledgling domestic economy – a domestic marketing worth over $15 million and growing rapidly – that could be supporting a local economy and building a local industry.
After addressing the Board, one Board Member asked an important question. Why is hemp regulated as is? Rouse thoroughly responded clearing up any confusion the audience may have had.
Upon presenting and meeting with a USDA General Counsel, Rouse learned that the issue is no longer a USDA matter but instead the Department of Justice (DOJ) must make a decision on the issue. The DOJ should issue guidance on both organic hemp certification and USDA funding within the next months.