With Planting Season Quickly Approaching, Senator Says Lack of Coordination at Federal Level Stopping Minnesota Growers From Obtaining Needed Seed

WASHINGTON, D.C. [04/19/19]—After taking a leading role in making sure Minnesota priorities were included in the 2018 Farm Bill, this week U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.)—a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee—is once again standing up for Minnesota farmers by pressing top federal agriculture, drug enforcement, and customs officials to clear the bureaucratic hurdles that are preventing Minnesota farmers from obtaining hemp seed.

Sen. Smith said last year’s Farm Bill established hemp as an agriculture commodity, and authorized the production, consumption, and sale of hemp in Minnesota and across the country. However, she said, a lack of coordination between federal agencies is preventing farmers from getting the hemp seed they need.

“It has come to my attention that Minnesota farmers who want to grow hemp are running into obstacles regarding the importation of hemp seed. I have heard from my constituents that these obstacles stem from a lack of coordination between federal agencies, specifically the United States Department of Agriculture, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP),” wrote Sen. Smith in her call to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Drug Enforcement Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon, and Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan. “In particular, a Minnesotan informed my office that the CBP will not allow hemp seeds into the country without a DEA permit, but DEA is no longer granting any permits because hemp is no longer treated as a controlled substance.

 

“Congress' clear intent in last year's law was to make it easier, not harder, for farmers to grow industrial hemp. The apparent bureaucratic failure described above is counter to Congressional intent, and more importantly, it is hurting Minnesota farmers. With planting season quickly approaching, I ask that you review this situation immediately, and update me on how you are addressing it.

You can read a copy of the letter here or below:

 

April 18, 2019

Secretary Sonny Perdue                                                                     Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon

U.S. Department of Agriculture                                                         U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration

1400 Independence Ave., S.W.                                                          8701 Morrissette Drive

Washington, DC 20250                                                                      Springfield, VA 22152

Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

Washington, DC 20229

Dear Secretary Perdue, Commissioner McAleenan, and Acting Administrator Dhillon,

As you all know, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, which was signed into law on December 20, 2018, removed hemp from the list of controlled substances, established hemp as a legal agricultural commodity and authorized the production, consumption and sale of hemp products in the United States.

It has come to my attention that Minnesota farmers who want to grow hemp are running into obstacles regarding the importation of hemp seed. I have heard from my constituents that these obstacles stem from a lack of coordination between federal agencies, specifically the United States Department of Agriculture, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP). In particular, a Minnesotan informed my office that the CBP will not allow hemp seeds into the country without a DEA permit, but DEA is no longer granting any permits because hemp is no longer treated as a controlled substance.

Congress' clear intent in last year's law was to make it easier, not harder, for farmers to grow industrial hemp. The apparent bureaucratic failure described above is counter to Congressional intent, and more importantly, it is hurting Minnesota farmers. With planting season quickly approaching, I ask that you review this situation immediately, and update me on how you are addressing it.

Thank you for looking into this matter.

Sincerely,

 

###

Issues