USDA Approves First State and Tribal Hemp Production Plans

One year after domestic hemp production became legal in the U.S. through the signing of the 2018 Farm Bill, the first three states and the first three Native American tribes are ready for production to begin soon, having obtained the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) blessing.

The USDA announced on Friday the approval of the first sets of plans submitted by Louisiana, New Jersey, Ohio, the Flandreau Santee Sioux tribe, the Santa Rosa Cahuilla tribe, and the La Jolla Band of Luiseno tribe for industrial hemp production under the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program.

The 2018 Farm Bill required the USDA to develop a regulatory oversight program for hemp, which included provisions for the Department to approve hemp production by states and Native American tribes.

The USDA issued a final interim rule on October 31, 2019, that established the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program and associated provisions for states and tribes.

The rule allowed states and tribes to submit plans and provide details regarding practices and procedures, enabling industrial hemp producers to operate in compliance with federal laws.

Growers who want to cultivate hemp must obtain a state, tribal, or USDA production program license.

“The program a grower is licensed under depends on the location of the hemp growing facility,” says the USDA. “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 currently have an industrial hemp production plan in place and does not intend to implement one, growers may apply for a license from the USDA.

The USDA maintains a list of plans submitted by states and tribes, including those that have and have not been approved, which is viewable on the Department’s website.