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A Citizen's Petition for Reconsideration & Rewrite of 2019 USDA Interim Hemp Production Regulation

Updated: Jul 12, 2020

On the 29th of January, I sent my comments to Bill Richmond, Chief, U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Planning, Specialty Crops Program, AMS, USDA. Requesting the Reconsideration & Rewrite of the USDA 2019 Interim Hemp Production Regulation.

To me, its pretty clear DC Bureaucrats have lost their way. As a group, these individuals, tasked with serving the American citizen's administrative requirements to our federal government simply refuse to meet the spirit & intent of their positions; and the USDA hemp regulation demonstrates this fact vividly.

For American farmers, and those involved and/or interested in the hemp industry succeeding, it is reasonable to expect that regulations governing the production of hemp, written by the US Department of Agriculture, would be focused on the word "production". For us it makes perfect sense that the USDA would write a regulation that governs independent, citizen farmers growing a new crop and building a new industry, on land they own - that the publication would outline necessary requirements to well & effectively produce and sell the most, and best, hemp in the world.

Most Americans know that when the World Wide Web, the internet, came into being the US government chose, as a matter of policy, NOT to impose restrictive regulation, licensing or fees & taxes upon its early adopters. This was done to insure that the fledgling industry had room to grow. Deliberately, government chose to encourage all participants. The idea being the more the better & the freer the better. Since its early days in the 1980's the internet, its communities, social network platforms, digital businesses have exploded. With its success has come a literal explosion of new technologies.

Unfortunately government regulators have chosen the antithesis of this model when it comes to the production of hemp and the introduction of a hemp market. The 'hands off' regulatory model followed by government regulators on the internet was proven successful by, well, success. The advent of the internet was met with a spirit of acceptance, and a dearth of regulation. Today, when faced with a very similar set of circumstance, a completely new product and market opportunity, government regulators choose a deeply flawed policy designed to expand the regulatory environment and increase its law enforcement reach. Where the internet was allowed to perpetuate untried, un-vetted entrepreneurs and innovators, the hemp plant and any profits that might be created by its marketing are being intensely retarded so as to allow only major corporate players and tax collectors to profit. Bureaucrats at all levels; the USDA in particular, and many state departments of agriculture, have hijacked good governance. Flexing their muscles and tightening their grips on the necks of small, independent hemp farmers. They've assumed uncalled for control of rural farm operations. Of course, this outcome is contrary to the spirit and intent of American independent farming.

It is also bad economic policy. Already, the US hemp industry is showing ill effects from state and federal department's of agriculture bipolar attitudes & biases toward this plant. Americans need good government, but government union's employee protections, entitled attitudes, and will to dictate have corrupted the ideal. These individuals, delegated the honor to administrate and work to encourage something great have failed in that trust. State level, as well as federal level officials appear to have carried extreme biases to these important jobs. Peer to peer influence has altered the mandate given the regulators by the Congress.

Government administration is obviously necessary for any interstate enterprise. It was of necessity the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture was delegated the authority to issue regulations governing the production of hemp. None the less, Secretary Perdue hasn't been given arbitrary power to destroy fledgling producers and markets, and stifle the hemp economy.

So it is no surprise that between Ag Department's punishing, arbitrary potency allowance, forced crop destruction for failed potency testing, and FDA holding the crop hostage by not allowing for its use in any commercially viable form - experts within the hemp economy are claiming less than 40% of the hemp planted in 2019 was sold by its producers in 2019. Now, in Feb. 2020 the bottom has fallen out of hemp bio-mass pricing. Processors are carrying huge surpluses of hemp derivatives.

Many are declaring the hemp market broken. How can this be when so much customer interest has been generated, and potential markets haven't yet been given opportunity to fulfill it?

Ag officials rationalize rather than answer these and similar questions. They deflect, claiming such difficulties are a result of poor planning within the hemp community. They fall back upon earlier statements urging producers to secure markets before entering into it and investing time and money. This argument is clearly a result of the deep, entrenched relationship between Big Farm Inc., bureaucrats and their departments.

How many business people in a new commercial market can secure guaranteed purchase of their product before they have ever produced it? Before they know the quality or quantity achieved? Does that kind of deal exist anywhere in business; or is it simply a conjecture of the government employee-mind being set free to demand its way on the independent small farm business community?

Some producers fell for Ag department grooming & attempted to achieve this fairy tale scenario. They integrated with, and signed contracts with vertically positioned players offering such arrangements. Investing their farm's equity to produce for companies like GenCanna in Kentucky. Sold by Ag Commisoner Quarles as a white knight to these folks. GenCanna failed, entered into bankruptcy and could not purchase the crop Kentucky farmers produced. Again, the Department of Agriculture deflected, and both entities used any and every excuse available to cover their political and corporate asses. Eventually, reportedly using the small print in the contracts they had demanded farmers sign, GenCanna justified not buying and many small farms in turn declared bankruptcy. Every major, vertically integrated Kentucky Hemp company we've spoken with, companies sold to the public by the Department of Agriculture as a model for the "production of hemp' has failed. Leaving producers with huge stores of hemp unsold and creating farm destroying losses.

The problem isn't with hemp producers; growers, processors, value adders, marketers.. The failures rest flat upon the heads of the the government regulators. They have stalled when they should have moved forward, i.e. FDA. They have moved speedily when what they should have done was wait and allow industry and market growth, i.e. USDA. They have failed. Not for the lack of trying. It is apparent when you speak with them, they are right where they want to be. Their will is to control a plant that is not on the list of controlled substances. They mean to control hemp, its uses and its revenues; and ensure that their power is expanded in doing so. They are out to take as much of the potential revenues created by the production of hemp and its associated cannabinoids and products as they can, while at the same time denying the hemp industry the freedom it requires to grow and succeed. It is a policy of predestined failure. The threats created by small, independent grower's succeeding will be stopped and control of US farm operations will forever be expanded. The hemp industry will recover, but the coordinated actions of big farm, big government, and corporate academia will reap the rewards. Not the small, independent farmer.

Why would state and federal departments of agriculture design policy to destroy small, independent producers? The answer may lie in the march toward socialism that seems to pervade America's bureaucracies in this new millennium. Bureaucrats are said to support Bernie Sanders, AOC and the rest of the crew in numbers far above what nationwide polling indicates our general population consensus shows. Bureaucracy is socialism, it is centralized planning.

When Stalin consolidated communist power in Russia the hold outs were the small, independent farmer, the kulak. The communists easily achieved power in the cities. All they had to do was control the supply of food and without protest dependent city folk flocked to the ideology. But in the rural farm lands it was not the same story. Farmers could produce their own food, and so possessed good health and a healthy dose of independent spirit.

That, the communists could not abide. So they invaded the rural areas and took every bite of food there. No one has any real idea how many they starved. Estimates are in the millions. The Ukraine was nearly depopulated. Then the areas were collectivized and urban dwellers forced out into the countryside to work there. In the 1980s when Ronald Reagan directly opposed the USSR, it was still unable to feed itself.

Bureaucrats, government employees, whatever you want to call them hate the small independent farmer. Makes no difference the rhetoric, the platitudes; or whether they work for the Department of Agriculture or the DEA. The very words, "small" and "independent" are anathema to the bureaucrat.

Large, corporate, these are terms they can accept; and regulations they promulgate and enforce prove it.

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