USDA Approves Hemp Production Plans For Minnesota, Tennessee, Puerto Rico
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued approval of hemp production plans under the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program for Minnesota, Tennessee and Puerto Rico, bringing the total number of approved plans to 53.
While its hemp production plan is now approved, Minnesota will continue to operate under the state’s pilot program.
“We thank USDA for their work on this new federal hemp program, and we are grateful they have approved Minnesota’s plan. While this is a major step forward, there are still concerns over some the regulations imposed on states and tribal governments, such as testing requirements,” Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen said. “We look forward to continuing our dialog with USDA so we can ensure Minnesota’s hemp growers and processors are successful in this fledging industry.”
Minnesotans first planted hemp under the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s (MDA) Pilot Program in 2016. There were six growers that year.
The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, made it distinct from marijuana, and recognized it as an agricultural crop. In 2019, 550 people held licenses to grow and/or process hemp. Over 7,300 acres and 400,000 indoor square feet were planted in Minnesota. Currently, 511 people have grower and/or processor licenses, and there are 8,605 hemp acres and 4.66 million indoor square feet of growing space registered with the MDA.
Interest in hemp grew exponentially after the 2018 Farm Bill granted it legal status as a crop and the number of licensed growers increased to 343 in 2019. The change in legal status coincided with a burgeoning interest in CBD products by consumers and during 2019, nearly 80% of the 8,000 acres planted to hemp in Minnesota were intended for CBD extraction.
In early November 2019, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) reported 3,800 producers licensed to grow as much as 51,000 acres of hemp statewide. The period for growers to renew their hemp license ended on June 30, 2020.
Pick Tennessee Products, TDA’s program that connects farmers directly to consumers, is also supporting the hemp industry with a new hemp category. Now, consumers can view hemp products from Tennessee producers at www.picktnproducts.org or on the Pick TN mobile app. Tennessee hemp growers, processors or manufacturers can apply to be included in this directory at www.picktnproducts.org/apply-pick-tennessee-products-application.html.
Puerto Rico is the second U.S. territory to receive hemp production plan approval. Its geographical position in a tropical region allows for up to three hemp harvests a year, Puerto Rico’s hemp plan states.
In July 2019, the Department of Agriculture of Puerto Rico issued an administrative order “to order the Puerto Rico Hemp Licensing and Inspection Office (OLIC) the creation, implementation and audit of hemp research pilot projects. By March 1, 2020, the Puerto Rico Department of Agriculture, through the OLIC, had granted 65 cultivation licenses and 13 manufacturing licenses.
under the Hemp Research Pilot Projects program
USDA continues to receive and review hemp production plans from states and Indian tribes. To review approved plans or check the status of a plan, visit the Status of State and Tribal Hemp Production Plans webpage.
— Ana Olvera, managing editor