USDA Approves First Hemp Production Plans for States and Native Tribes

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WASHINGTON, D.C.The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved the first set of regulatory plans for domestic hemp production under the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program. Approval was granted to the states of Louisiana, New Jersey, and Ohio.

Federal regulators appear to also be focused on opening social equity opportunities in the hemp industry having simultaneously approved hemp cultivation plans submitted by the Flandreau Santee Sioux, Santa Rosa Cahuilla, and La Jolla Band of Luiseno native American tribes.

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Additional approvals are expected in the near future. In October, ten months after the 2018 farm bill was passed, the USDA issued its final interim rule, setting up a procedure for states and tribes to submit their regulatory plans.

USDA is currently still receiving feedback on hemp and CBD regulations having extended the public commentary period by thirty days to January 29, 2020.  

State regulators are eager for federal guidance on regulating domestic hemp programs. New Jersey Secretary at the state’s Department of Agriculture believes a well defined plan will be a great help to cultivators and can help the state become a leader in the hemp industry.

“It is in New Jersey’s best interests to administer a program within the state to ensure the needs of local farmers and businesses are being met,” the New Jersey Hemp Production Plan reads. “The Governor and the Legislature have made the determination that New Jersey should act promptly with the goal of having New Jersey ‘move the State and its citizens to the forefront of the hemp industry.’”

Once the USDA finalizes its requirements, regulation will shift to local agencies. 

“To produce hemp, growers must be licensed or authorized under a state, tribe, or USDA production program,” the agency said in a release. “The program a grower is licensed under depends on the location of the hemp growing facility. If a state or tribe has an approved plan or is in the process of developing a plan, growers must apply and be licensed or authorized under its hemp program. If a state or tribe does not have a plan and does not intend to have a plan, growers can apply for a license from USDA.”

After providing little updates for close to a year, federal agencies have been picking up the pace in December. Besides approving the first hemp production plans, the USDA also announced that hemp farmers will be eligible for crop insurance. Earlier this month, the EPA issued a list of approved pesticides for hemp cultivation.

USDA is currently reviewing plans from additional states and tribes. The status of all submitted plans can be reviewed here.

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