FILE – This Sept. 23, 2014 file photo shows a close-up view of a hemp plant cut down at a University of Kentucky farm near Lexington, Ky. Some South Dakota lawmakers are attempting to overcome perceptions about hemps family ties to marijuana to explore the economic potential of the crop with a bill patterned after North Dakotas industrial hemp law. (AP Photo/Dylan Lovan, File) (Photo: Dylan Lovan, AP)
A federal judge has denied the Flandreau Santee Sioux’s request for a preliminary injunction against the U.S. Department of Agriculture over the department’s rollout of rules on hemp cultivation.
The tribe is seeking to plant a hemp crop this year following Congressional approval of the 2018 Farm Bill, which lifted long-standing prohibitions on hemp production. In its federal lawsuit, the tribe argued that a provision in the Farm Bill requires USDA to approve tribal and state hemp plans within 60 days of receiving those plans.
USDA acknowledged the 60-day deadline in its response, but the department argued that it first needed to draft rules and regulations before it could begin approving plans. The department says it hopes to have its rules and regulations in place by the fall of this year.
But that would be too late for a 2019 crop, the tribe argued. The tribe in its filing said it had already paid money to plant a crop, and it estimated that it could lose as much as $17 million if it failed to plant the crop.
While Judge Karen Schreier did rule that the tribe might suffer harm by failing to sell a crop this year, that harm didn’t outweigh the benefit to the public that USDA has in establishing rules and regulations to approve plans. Those plans, she said, can’t be approved until rules are in place.
“A harmonious reading of the statute lends to the likelihood that the 60 day window to approve or deny a plan does not begin until regulations are promulgated by the USDA,” she wrote.
The history of the U.S. Courthouse in Sioux Falls, South Dakota
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