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Shuman Tells USDA Delays in Hemp Approvals will Hurt the Tribes

By Joe Morey News Editor


The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) held an Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Tribal Consultation with tribal leaders on April 11. One of the main topics discussed during the tele-conference was tribal hemp operations across Indian Country.


LCO Tribal Governing Board (TGB) member Tweed Shuman participated in the call. He said the USDA is proposing a delay in the approval process of tribal ordinances governing their own hemp operations.


Shuman told the AMS during the call, “This delay would put tribes at a disadvantage in states that have pilot programs like Wisconsin putting the tribes another year behind.”


Shuman requested the USDA follow the law and approve tribal plans within 60 days of submission.


At issue is the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill on Dec. 12 of last year which provided the opportunity for tribes to create their own hemp laws and self-regulate, but not long after, LCO Chairman Louis Taylor informed the tribe the bill wouldn’t go into effect until the Fall of 2019, therefore, if tribes pursued hemp operations they would fall under the 2014 guidelines.


Taylor said the tribe reached out to the state and they said the tribes don’t have to follow these regulations, but anyone we deal with would, “So, we are going to use this year as an experimental year so we know what we are doing for next season. There is a lot we need to learn. Basically, we do a practice run this year.”


Taylor said despite the delay, “We’re still moving forward and plan to have a crop in the ground this year.”


Hayward attorney Jeff Cormell made a presentation to the tribal council after the passing of the Farm Bill in December and said, “The federal government placed tribal law-making authority for hemp in parity with state. This is a watershed moment for the federal to tribal relationship, in recognizing tribe’s status in relation to states. LCO has the opportunity to write its own laws on hemp cultivation, hemp processing and hemp distribution, including but not limited to cannabidiol (CBD).”


Cormell further stated, “this [the Farm bill] authorizes transportation and shipment of tribally produced hemp products across state lines and allows for federal crop insurance and opens the door for USDA loans to assist in the cultivation of hemp.”


Shuman indicated the tribe could still grow a crop this year but if approval of an ordinance is delayed, the tribe would be limited on who or where we could do business.


In December, after the passing of the bill, Shuman said, “We hope to pursue this and have an ordinance drafted to present to the United States Dept of Agriculture (USDA). This ordinance would be very important to LCO because it would be a tribal license, so we could plant, grow and harvest hemp, all under our own regulations, and not have the state tell us what to do. We plan to govern ourselves and be treated like the state is.”