Ever since the 2018 Farm Bill legalized commercial production of hemp, state and federal regulators have found themselves playing catch up with production practices. That dynamic was on display when state and EPA officials gathered for the State FIFRA Issues Research and Evaluation Group (SFIREG) in Arlington, Virginia, on June 3-4.
Officially, hemp production is legal in most states now. Practically, producers have very few answers on how they can safely grow the crop, particularly in the absence of many fungicides, herbicides and insecticides labeled for use in hemp.
"We're in a situation where production is already happening," said Liza Fleeson Trossbach, a Virginia pesticide regulator who spoke at the meeting. "The cart is way ahead of the horse with the Farm Bill and all these other issues coming up. We've got a lot of angry people in Virginia right now."
At the meeting, EPA officials admitted they are scrambling to take the initial steps to make pesticides legal and safe to use on hemp crops. In the meantime, state regulators and Extension offices are in a holding pattern, unable to identify or recommend many pesticides to farmers eager to move forward with a new cropping opportunity.
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