U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program
USDA approvals for hemp are continually evolving and changing. Since it was passed as part of the 2018 Farm Bill (pdf), it is common to think that it is o.k. and legal to grow hemp in the U.S. What the 2018 Farm Bill did was direct the USDA to create the rules for hemp production within the U.S., and that led to the creation of the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program through an Interim Final Rule. Comments on the rule were allowed to be submitted until December 30, 2019. The rule that is being created governs the production of hemp under the 2018 Farm Bill, outlining how the USDA would approve the plans submitted by States and Indian Tribes. It also created a Federal plan for producers in States or territories of Indian tribes that do not have their own USDA-approved plan.
It is key to note that this interim rule does not affect the production of industrial hemp. That remains subject to the requirements of the 2014 Farm Bill.
USDA Approves First State and Tribal Hemp Production Plans
As a result of the Interim Final Rule, on December 27, 2019, the USDA approved it’s first state and tribal hemp production plans. The plans were submitted by the states of Louisiana, New Jersey, and Ohio, and the Flandreau Santee Sioux, Santa Rosa Cahuilla, and La Jolla Band of Luiseno Indian Tribes. To know if hemp production has been approved in your area, the USDA has put together a table that summarizes the status of State and Tribal hemp production plans that are either pending approval or have been approved.
If your State or Tribe has been approved or is in the process of developing a hemp production plan, you must apply to and be licensed or authorized under its hemp program. If a program has not been approved, an application may be submitted to the USDA for a hemp production license. The acceptance of applications started on November 30, 2019.
No matter which program you are part of in order to produce hemp, you first need to be licensed or authorized under a State hemp program, a Tribal hemp program, or the USDA hemp program. The location of the hemp growing facility will determine the program you are licensed under.
As part of the process, an FBI criminal history report will need to be completed and accompany the USDA Hemp Program application. Any convictions of a felony related to a controlled substance in the last 10 years will result in the application being declined.
Additional Areas To Consider
If growing hemp is on your radar, another area to consider is your financial and insurance institutions position on their services supporting you in producing the crop. There have been some interesting articles lately about some organizations changing their positioning, even during growing season. For example, it was reported in the New Food Economy that banks are dropping farmers for growing hemp.
As a producer, knowledge is also needed about which pesticide products are registered for use on hemp. The list of products will be updated by the EPA as they are submitted and approved. Depending on how the hemp crop will be utilized, that will determine the products that can be used.
Stay Up To Date
Many events and educational opportunities are happening around the globe about a variety of agricultural topics. No matter which crop is selected to be a part of your rotation, it is important to stay up to date. An easy way to do this is to sign up for the YieldOrganic monthly newsletter to have organic events delivered directly to your inbox.
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