GMO Labeling Rules

On May 3, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its long-awaited proposed regulations for the mandatory disclosure of foods produced using genetic engineering (GE). These rules will implement the 2016 federal law requiring those GE disclosures, establishing many details on how the disclosures will be implemented. This federal law is the one that pre-empted Vermont’s first in the nation GMO food labeling law.

The rules are the final step in a decades-long process of demanding and securing GE food labeling in the United States at the state and now at the federal level. As such, public comment will be extremely important. The importance of comments is even further magnified by the fact that the USDA proposal presents a range of alternatives and makes few decisions, leaving uncertainty about what GMO food labeling will look like and whether it will actually provide the information consumers are seeking . Some of the more important issues along with suggested responses are detailed below.


Public comments on the proposed rules should be submitted

by July 3, 2018 via the Federal eRulemaking portal at

Comments may also be filed with the

Docket Clerk,

1400 Independence Ave., SW, Room 4543 South,

Washington, DC 20250

Reference: Docket No. AMS-TM-17-0050


Hemp Pilot Program

On May 21, 2018, a new bill was signed into law allowing farmers to grow hemp and participate in a federally-compliant research program administered by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture. The law provides opportunities to participate in research on cultivating, harvesting, processing, and marketing hemp. It also creates simpler, legal ways to obtain seeds and other hemp genetics. A provision in the law establishes regulations for testing, quality control, and labeling of hemp and hemp-derived products. This bill mandates a formal rule-making process for the implementation of the new law, which is likely to begin in fall 2018.

Rural Vermont is still sorting out unanswered questions about the new hemp law, and we recently received important clarifications from the Agency of Agriculture leadership. July 1st is NOT the deadline for registering to grow hemp under the new pilot program. Rural Vermont has been informed that it is the Agency’s intention to accept program registrations anytime during the year. Those who register prior to July 1st, when the new law takes effect, will not need to re-register in 2018. However, registration is an ANNUAL requirement, as is the $25 fee.

To sum it up: If you are growing hemp in 2018 and you haven’t already registered, you’ll want to register now. If you plan to grow in 2019, then you can hold off on registering until 2019. To register with the Agency of Agriculture, click here.