Maine agriculture officials say new hemp rules could hurt growth

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AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Maine's agriculture officials are concerned that changes to federal rules about hemp farming could hurt the growth of the industry in the state.

Photo Source: Aleks / CC BY-SA 3.0 / Adrian Cable / CC BY-SA 2.0 / Barbetorte / CC BY-SA 3.0 / MGN

The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture about the new rules on Monday.

Maine has had a hemp growing program since 2016, and it has grown to more than 180 license agreements after starting with a single grower.

The letter, signed by E. Ann Gibbs, director of the state division of animal and plant health, states that the rules should be amended. As presently constituted, the rules “will be challenging for states with existing hemp programs and could threaten the future growth of the industry overall,” Gibbs wrote.

One of the problems Gibbs cites with the new rules is that they would require testing labs registered with the Drug Enforcement Administration. Gibbs wrote that rule is “cumbersome at best and impossible to meet at worst.”

USDA is collecting comments on the hemp rules until Dec. 30.