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Organic Trade Association “Strongly Supports” Senate Hemp and CBD Bill; Launches Resource Page for Organic Hemp Producers

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Organic Trade Association “Strongly Supports” Senate Hemp and CBD Bill; Launches Resource Page for Organic Hemp Producers

By Steven Hoffman

“The Organic Trade Association’s simplified position? Grow organic hemp. Demand organic hemp.”  – Gwendolyn Wyard, VP of Technical & Regulatory Affairs, OTA

The organic products industry’s leading trade group, the Organic Trade Association (OTA), on August 5 voiced its endorsement of S. 1698, the Hemp Access and Consumer Safety Act.

In addition, the organization announced the launch of a resource page for organic hemp producers at www.ota.com/hemp that includes a just released Organic Hemp Certification Fact Sheet, plus OTA’s comments on the USDA’s interim final rule on hemp production and its statement of support for S. 1698.

Founded in 1985 and based in Washington, D.C., OTA represents more than 9,500 organic businesses in the U.S., comprising growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmer associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and others. 

“The Organic Trade Association strongly supports the bipartisan legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate on May 19, 2021. Consistent with the 2018 law, the Hemp Access and Consumer Safety Act (S. 1698) will create regulatory pathways for use of organic hemp-derived CBD in organic food, beverages, and organic dietary supplements. This bill is critical because it will address the uncertainty in the marketplace that is holding back organic farmers from increasing organic hemp acreage and organic brands from developing and diversifying organic product lines,” the association said in a statement.

“The 2018 Farm Bill legalized the production of hemp as an agricultural commodity and removed it from the list of controlled substances. On Jan. 19, 2021, USDA published a final hemp rule making it possible for farmers to legally grow industrial hemp under a U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program,” OTA stated.

“[OTA] recognizes the tremendous opportunity this monumental action can have for organic hemp farmers and manufacturers and for the wide range of products our members produce, including foods and beverages, cosmetics and personal care products, nutritional supplements, fabrics and textiles, yarns and spun fibers. Our position is that there is no need to work with a conventional crop because organic agriculture has all of the tools needed to produce a thriving hemp crop and associated hemp products. Growing hemp organically is better for the planet, and it is ultimately what the consumer wants,” the association further explained.

The bill before the Senate, S. 1698, would establish a legal and regulatory pathway for the sale of hemp-derived extract products, including CBD, as dietary supplements and as an allowed ingredient in food and beverage products.

In an official statement, OTA said, “The Organic Trade Association applauds Senator Wyden, Senator Paul, and Senator Merkley for introducing the Hemp Access and Consumer Safety Act. This bill is a critical step for moving the organic hemp sector forward because it will address the uncertainty in the marketplace that is holding back organic farmers from increasing organic hemp acreage and organic brands from developing and diversifying organic product lines. USDA-accredited organic certifiers will be able to consistently apply certification approvals to products that are clearly regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and consumers will benefit with greater access to CBD products that are safe, properly labeled and healthy for people and the planet.”

Ensuring Consumer Access to CBD Products
According to a statement from the office of Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), “Currently, the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act prohibits any new dietary ingredient, food or beverage from entering the market if it has been studied or approved as a drug. The FDA has the authority to exempt items from this prohibition, but has yet to exempt hemp-derived CBD despite Congressional action to legalize its production and sale. By exempting hemp-derived CBD from the prohibition, the FDA can regulate hemp-derived CBD like all other new dietary ingredients, foods and beverages.”

According to Wyden’s office, the Hemp Access and Consumer Safety Act would:

– Give hemp-derived CBD products an opportunity to lawfully be used in dietary supplements, foods and beverages under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

– Prioritize consumer safety, requiring manufacturers to comply with all existing federal regulations for the products that contain CBD.

– Ensure that products are properly labeled.

In addition to OTA’s endorsement, S. 1698 has the support of the Consumer Brands Association, the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America, U.S. Hemp Roundtable, American Herbal Products Association, Oregon Farm Bureau, Vote Hemp, the National Industrial Hemp Council and others.

In related news, OTA on August 5 hosted a Q&A session on Zoom with hemp producers, and the organization announced the launch of a hemp resource page for organic hemp producers at www.ota.com/hemp. Led by Gwendolyn Wyard, OTA’s VP of Regulatory & Technical Affairs and Hemp Program Manager, staff at OTA presented the association’s support for hemp, and fielded questions from hemp producers, traders and others.

“The organic label is the most transparent consumer driven, farmer powered, uniformly regulated by federal standards food system in the world, based on third party certification and USDA oversight and enforcement,” said Gwendolyn Wyard, OTA’s VP of Regulatory & Technical Affairs and Hemp Program Manager, during the Q&A session. “Shoppers increasingly want to know what the organic claim means and they want to be able to trust it. Our message simplified: grow organic hemp; demand organic hemp.”

# # #

Steven Hoffman is Managing Director of Compass Natural, providing brand marketing, PR, social media, and strategic business development services to natural, organic, sustainable and hemp/CBD products businesses. Compass Natural serves in PR and programming for NoCo Hemp Expo and  Southern Hemp Expo, and Hoffman serves as Editor of the weekly Let’s Talk Hemp Newsletter, published by We are for Better Alternatives. Contact steve@compassnaturalmarketing.com.

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