U.S. Senators Seek USDA Intervention for Virginia’s Hemp Production Plan

Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine asked the USDA to expedite its review of Virginia’s production program to avoid unnecessary delays and potential complications ahead of the 2020 growing season.

January 27, 2020

Senators are calling for some government intervention, specifically for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to expedite Virginia’s plan to regulate hemp production.

U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine, who represent the Commonwealth of Virginia, are advocating for the push so the General Assembly can update its laws and address any potential deficiencies that may arise following USDA review before the session adjourns March 2020.

In 2019, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) registered more than 1,200 growers to produce approximately 2,200 acres of industrial hemp.

“Industrial hemp presents an unprecedented opportunity for Virginia producers, and it is critically important that state and federal guidelines provide certainty and security to our farmers,” the senators wrote in a letter to USDA Administrator Bruce Summers. “If Virginia’s Hemp Production Plan is not processed in a timely manner, we are concerned this could cause complications for the Commonwealth’s hemp program and our producers, who are eager to take advantage of this exciting opportunity.”

The Democratic senators have been supporters of hemp as an agricultural commodity. In 2019, they helped secure Virginia’s inclusion in a pilot to develop a crop insurance program for industrial hemp and supported two bipartisan and bicameral spending bills that provided $16.5 million in new funding to implement the Hemp Production Program. In 2018, they sponsored a provision in the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill) to remove hemp from the list of controlled substances.