The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on Thursday that it is launching a weekly newsletter to provide “unbiased, timely, and accurate data” on the hemp industry.
The first edition of the National Hemp Report from USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) was released in concert with the announcement.
The report features information about weekly retail advertised prices for hemp products, in addition to import volumes and the values of hemp commodities that enter the U.S. for the week and year-to-date.
“USDA has recognized the hemp industry’s need for timely market information,” USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt said in a press release. “The National Hemp Report will equip stakeholders with weekly price and volume information to help guide smart business decisions.”
This is first time that USDA has released a market report “dedicated solely to this new commodity group,” and the department said it will “expand in the future to include additional market information pending ongoing industry engagement.”
The new cannabis crop report joins national ones that already exist for honey and specialty crops, and local reports dealing with commodities like pecans, apples and cut flowers.
For this week’s report, USDA said that retail ads for hemp rose, “with a 79 percent increase from last week and a 493 percent increase over the same week last year,” for example.
This development comes about a week after USDA started sending out thousands of surveys to hemp farmers across the country as part of its annual effort to learn about how the market has evolved since the crop was federally legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill.
USDA launched its first annual survey in 2021 and released a report detailing the results the following year. The questionnaire has since been revised to “improve data quality and reduce respondent burden,” USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) said.
In 2020, USDA announced plans to distribute a separate national survey to gain insights from thousands of hemp businesses that could inform its approach to regulating the industry.
That survey launched in partnership with National Association of State Departments of Agriculture and the University of Kentucky. The department said it wanted to learn about “current production costs, production practices, and marketing practices” for hemp.
Meanwhile, USDA announced last month that it is delaying enforcement of a rule requiring hemp to be tested at laboratories certified by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) due to “inadequate” capacity of such facilities.
The DEA laboratory testing requirement will not go into effect on January 1 as originally planned. At earliest, the industry-contested rule will go into force on December 31.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack gave final approval to a broad federal rule laying out regulations for the hemp industry in 2021, despite the outstanding concerns from advocates about certain provisions.
The agency has separately taken also steps to improve insurance policies for hemp businesses, making them more flexible in response to stakeholder feedback.
USDA has made several moves to align hemp insurance policies with those of other lawful crops since the plant was federally legalized, consistently seeking out input from stakeholders as the industry matures.
In 2020, for example, the department made it so hemp farmers can qualify for Multi-Peril Crop Insurance, in addition to several other coverage programs for which the crop is now eligible.
USDA said in 2021 that it was teaming up with a chemical manufacturing company on a two-year project that could significantly expand the hemp-based cosmetics market.
Meanwhile, on the same day of the USDA weekly newsletter announcement, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said that it will not be creating rules to allow the marketing of CBD as dietary supplements or food items, leaving the massive industry without regulations despite repeated calls for administrative action from lawmakers, advocates and stakeholders.
Following a “careful review” of the non-intoxicating cannabinoid, FDA said it reached the conclusion that the existing regulatory pathways that are in place for other dietary supplements and food additives will not work for CBD. Instead, the agency said that wants to “work with Congress on a new way forward.”
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