USDA Releases Update On Hemp Seed Importation

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced new rules regarding the importation of hemp seeds.

With the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp and hemp seeds were removed from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) list of Controlled Substances.

Because hemp seeds with THC levels under 0.3 percent were no longer on the list, the DEA lost the authority to require permits for imported hemp seeds.

Regulations Needed

According to the USDA, hemp seed exporters and U.S. producers have asked the Department to provide a legal path for exporting hemp seeds to the United States.

In April 2019, Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) penned a letter to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Acting Commissioner John Sanders to provide clarity regarding hemp importations into the U.S.

“We are hearing from producers that they are unable to acquire seeds as used in previous years under the 2014 pilot program because DEA no longer regulates the commodity or its seeds following the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill,” stated the letter. “It is currently legal to import industrial hemp seeds into the United States. However, CBP has not updated its guidance for ports of entry to be in compliance with current DEA regulations, meaning that hemp importations are being turned away at the border.”

The senators urged the CBP to work with the USDA And DEA to provide clarification so border agents could act in accordance with current law.

Regulations Delivered

As the USDA regulates seed imports for planting to ensure safe agricultural trade, it has finally released rules for safe hemp seed importation.

Hemp seeds imported from Canada must be accompanied by one of two certifications.

One is a phytosanitary certification from the country’s national plant protection organization to verify the origin of the hemp seeds and the absence of plant pests.

The other is a Federal Seed Analysis Certificate (SAC PPQ Form 925) for Canadian-grown hemp seeds.

Hemp seeds imported from countries other than Canada require a phytosanitary certificate from the exporting country’s national plant protection organization.

In addition to phytosanitary certificates, The CBP will inspect hemp seed shipments upon arrival at the first port of entry to ensure they meet USDA requirements.