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The Senate Agriculture Committee talks to an experienced hemp regulator Tuesday when it considers the confirmation of Tom Vilsack for Secretary of Agriculture.
Vilsack, an Iowan, is President Joe Biden’s nominee and served in the same role for all eight years of the Obama administration.
He oversaw the USDA during passage and implementation of the 2014 Farm Bill, which allowed states to experiment with hemp production.
Vilsack is considered to be a “confirmable” pick for the narrowly divided Senate. He was unanimously confirmed in the Senate in 2009, though within the hemp industry has drawn a mix of reactions due to his contribution to a 2016 USDA memo outlining the limits of legal hemp production.
Others are optimistic that Vilsack’s experience will provide the necessary regulatory clarity for the hemp industry to move forward.
Kevin Shea has been serving as acting agriculture secretary during the presidential administration transition until Vilsack’s confirmation hearing is complete.
Congress made hemp a national commodity in 2018 and again put USDA in charge. The agency spent two years crafting rules for the new crop. But because those rules were published just a day before Biden took office, the new administration is taking a look at them and may consider further changes.
To read more about how the USDA plans to regulate hemp, download our free guide here.