The president of Vote Hemp said hemp businesses would not be able to argue their case for eligibility under the U.S. Department of Agriculture Coronavirus Food Assistance Program – designed for relief for agriculture businesses affected by the pandemic and state responses to the crisis – because the agency says the sector has not suffered a 5 percent decline from January to April, as required by the program, according to a Hemp Grower report.
Hemp businesses are eligible for aid under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Stability (CARES) Act – a stimulus package aimed at providing relief for individuals and businesses after most states shut down their economies in some form amid the pandemic. However, the agriculture-focused USDA program only provides relief for industries who “believe they’ve suffered a 5 percent or greater price decline between January and April 2020 and … face additional marketing costs due to COVID-19,” the USDA website says.
Vote Hemp President Eric Seenstra said it “doesn’t seem right that they should leave hemp out” of the program, adding that he is “disappointed to see how hemp is being treated by the USDA in this case.”
The program will provide up to $16 billion in direct, one-time payments to farmers and ranchers impacted by the coronavirus based on the commodities they produce. Funding for the payments comes from the CARES Act and the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act.
The report notes that tobacco companies may also not be eligible for aid under the USDA rules. Other commodities not automatically eligible include sheep more than two years old, eggs/layers, soft and hard red winter wheat, white wheat, rice, flax, rye, peanuts, feed barley, Extra Long Staple (ELS) cotton, alfalfa, and forage crops.
Hemp producers may submit comments on regulations.gov and the agency will consider those comments by June 22. The USDA is accepting program applications through the Farm Service Agency until August 28.
Get daily cannabis business news updates. Subscribe