EPA Seeks Public Comment on Pesticide Applications for Hemp
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 21, 2019) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has received10 pesticide applications to expand their use on hemp, the agency announced on Aug. 21. The 10 requests are the result of the December 2018 Farm Bill provisions that removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, legalizing hemp for commercial use and production.
“EPA is taking the next step toward registering crop protection tools for hemp in time for use during the 2020 application and growing seasons,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “The Agency is announcing a 30-day public comment period on ten existing pesticide product applications for industrial hemp. We hope this transparent and public process will bring hemp farmers and researchers increased regulatory clarity in time for next growing season — something they have asked for since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill and the legalization of commercial hemp.”
“Given the strong economic forecasts for hemp production in the United States, it comes as no surprise that we are beginning to see pesticide registrants intensify their interests in gaining crop protection approvals for use on hemp,” said Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention at the Hemp Production Field Day at the University of Kentucky. “EPA is committed to helping hemp growers obtain the tools needed to support and increase commercial production. This step recognizes that innovation in pesticide use is critical to the success of our strong and vibrant agricultural sector.”
“I am grateful to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Assistant Administrator Alexandra Dapolito Dunn for selecting the University of Kentucky’s hemp field days to announce new pesticide applications for hemp,” said Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles. “With about 1,000 Kentucky growers licensed to grow hemp this year, farmers need every tool in the toolbox to increase yields and protect their crops from harmful pests. This announcement proves the EPA is listening to the needs of hemp growers in Kentucky and around the nation.”
"Today's announcement is a welcome first step on the path to registration of safe and effective crop protection agents for a rapidly expanding hemp enterprise," said Dr. Bob Pearce, hemp researcher at the University of Kentucky, College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment. "My colleagues and I have already identified a number of weeds, insects, and plant diseases that pose a potential threat to economically viable hemp production. We will work closely with EPA to identify and evaluate best management practices for the use of crop protection agents to help control pests in hemp crops.
“As one of the original proponents of legalizing hemp, I’ve continued to advocate for the success and growth of this budding industry. I’m glad to see EPA Administrator Wheeler taking comments on pesticide applications for hemp, and I’m excited this announcement is being made at the Hemp Production Field Day at UK. Kentucky has been and will continue to be a leader in the hemp industry, and it’s been my honor to advocate for this industry since I came to the Senate in 2011,” said Senator Rand Paul.
“I commend EPA for recognizing the significance hemp has in our nation’s agriculture economy, particularly in the state of Kentucky,” said Rep. James Comer (KY-01) “Getting these registrants approved prior to the next growing season is a tremendous help to our farmers. Thanks to Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Assistant Administrator Alexandra Dapolito Dunn for helping provide the necessary tools our producers need to ensure they have the opportunity to produce the best crop.”
To ensure transparency and improve EPA’s process for considering pest management tools for the emerging American hemp industry, EPA is seeking public comment on these applications. The list of pesticides can be found in prepublication copy of the Federal Register notice. Comments are due 30 days after the notice publishes in the Federal Register.
Once public comments are received, EPA anticipates deciding about the possible use of the specified products on hemp before the end of 2019 to help growers make informed purchasing choices for the upcoming growing season. Moving forward, EPA will review, approve or deny applications for use on hemp as the agency would for any other use site.
The enacted 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp with a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of no more than 0.3% on a dry-weight basis. Thus, the 2018 Farm Bill allows for expanding cultivation of hemp, but not marijuana.