Oklahoma Farm Service Agency Director Allegedly Blocking Hemp Cultivation

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A federal lawsuit filed in Oklahoma suggests that the state’s Farm Service Agency director has been misleading potential hemp farmers about the legality of the plant.

Equitable Organic Ventures is in search of to contract with about 20 farmers who “desire to cultivate hemp” for the organization. EOV is functioning in conjunction with an unnamed greater education institution in Oklahoma.

Scott Biggs is the executive director of the Oklahoma division of the Farm Service Agency (FSA), and he is getting accused of threatening farmers and deterring them from participating in any hemp cultivation plan, regardless of the current passage of the 2018 Farm Bill and regardless of Oklahoma enacting an industrial hemp pilot plan (below the guidance of the 2014 Farm Bill) final year. The state’s plan “allows universities, or subcontractors, to cultivate industrial hemp for study and improvement purposes.”

For the reason that USDA officials and lawmakers are nevertheless hammering out the information of a federal regulatory structure for hemp, the industry remains below the legal auspices of the 2014 Farm Bill and its pilot applications.

EOV and its greater education institution companion intend on participating—with the contracted aid from Oklahoma farmers.

But not so rapidly, Biggs has countered.

“Biggs has repeatedly and unilaterally communicated to FSA workers statewide, as nicely as inquiring farmers, that if they enter into a contract with EOV, or if they plant even one particular hemp seed, they will be topic to losing their current farm loans,” the lawsuit states. (Biggs’ agency gives farmers with loans, crop insurance coverage and other positive aspects.)

EOV started approaching Oklahoma farmers in March and April 2019, in search of contracts with these interested in developing hemp. “In abundance of caution,” according to the lawsuit, “all farmers had been directed to speak to FSA relating to their participation in the Oklahoma Hemp Plan to assure the farmers there would be no unfavorable implications for their participation with EOV in the plan.”

1 farmer, Jeff Dill, of Harmon County, wrote in a signed affidavit that a state FSA employee had insisted that he’d be facing penalties for obtaining involved in this enterprise. The employee told Dill that, had been he to participate in this contracted activity, he “could be ineligible for all FSA applications.” The e-mail also stated that he “could be topic to getting all of [his] loans known as and that any one who was affiliated [with him] … would be topic to the exact same.”

In the lawsuit, EOV writes that FSA approval is not expected below the Oklahoma statute governing its hemp pilot program—which is correct.

EOV has an open request below the Freedom of Information and facts Act for an e-mail circulated by Biggs, which allegedly describes the agency’s strategy to hemp farming: “[A]ll participants in the Oklahoma Hemp Plan will be topic to getting their FSA loans known as, they will be denied new loans, and they will be topic to criminal charges.

Below federal law, any individual “convicted below state or federal law of planting, developing, harvesting, or storing a controlled substance shall be ineligible for any USDA or FSA advantage.” And though the 2018 Farm Bill did eliminate hemp from the federal list of controlled substances, the state of Oklahoma has not accomplished the exact same in its personal statutes. “Marihuana” remains listed amongst Schedule-I substances, and the definition of that term contains “all components of the plant, irrespective of whether developing or not the seeds thereof the resin extracted from any element of such plant and each compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture or preparation of such plant, its seeds or resin.”

According to state statute, “Any conflict involving state and federal law with regard to the unique schedule in which a substance is listed shall be resolved in favor of state law.”

The underlying urgency for the EOV in sorting out this interpretation lies in the pretty planting season: The organization and the farmers may perhaps miss out on the year’s worth of small business and lessons discovered, if Biggs and the state division of the FSA continue to block hemp production.

Content material from: https://www.cannabisbusinesstimes.com/write-up/oklahoma-hemp-farmers-lawsuit-farm-service-agency-scott-biggs/.

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