States decide whether to let USDA handle hemp

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been given the authority to oversee hemp production by states that have legalized it. However, there are some states that are skeptical of the USDA’s ability to manage such a large and complicated industry.

The usda hemp statistics is a recent article that discusses the state of hemp in America. It talks about how states are deciding whether to let the USDA handle hemp, and what they are doing if they do.



Two prominent hemp-growing states recently decided to let the Department of Agriculture regulate hemp within their borders, partly due to financial concerns, and others are still deciding whether or not to hand over authority to USDA as the pilot programs authorized under the 2014 farm bill expire at the end of this year.

Four tribes and three states — Hawaii, Mississippi, and New Hampshire — have already decided to let USDA take the lead, and the majority of proposals have been approved or are being reviewed. Almost a dozen people are still unsure.

Wisconsin and North Carolina both announced last month that they would delegate licensing and oversight of hemp cultivation to USDA, raising concerns about the agency’s ability to manage the additional responsibilities.

“USDA will have to manage a lot more individual licenses next year than they have in the past,” says Rick Fox, co-chair of the National Industrial Hemp Council’s government relations committee. “USDA claims to have software in place and will be prepared. And I’m sure they’re working hard to get ready. But we’ll have to wait and see.”

When asked if USDA is ready to deal with grower applications, a department spokesperson said the domestic hemp production program is “resourced to continue to process applications, review plans, and provide guidance to all states, tribes, and individual growers,” and directed growers to the program’s website.

Growers in areas whose plans have not been authorized by the USDA will have to apply for a hemp production license with the USDA online. Benefits of a federally administered program, according to Wisconsin’s DATCP, include “no licensing costs,” “a three-year federal license rather than an annual license,” and “some flexibility using private sampling and testing services.”

The expense of sampling and testing was a major issue among ag commissioners and directors at the recent National Association of State Departments of Agriculture conference, according to Fox.

Commissioner Brad Copenhaver of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services told Agri-Pulse that “increased flexibility around growing the crops in general from a regulatory standpoint would be very helpful,” mentioning how sampling protocols could be revised to focus on hemp varieties more likely to exceed the legal THC threshold.

VDACS has filed a proposal to keep its program operating, according to Copenhaver. The state will continue to rely on license fees to help finance it, and producers will almost certainly be required to pay for sampling and testing.

“Our farmers, on the whole, prefer to work with our state agricultural department,” Copenhaver added.

According to Phil Wilson, head of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ plant industry section, the state now has around 600 licensed producers, down from about 1,500 a few years ago. In 2021, Wisconsin received 828 grower applications, compared to 1,537 in 2020.

The legislatures in both states did not allocate funding to continue the initiatives. The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection stated that although Gov. Tony Evers’ budget plan for 2021-2023 contained continuing personnel resources to support the hemp program, such resources were not included in the final version of the budget approved by the legislature.

According to DATCP spokeswoman Leeann Duwe, the program cost the state $1.3 million to operate, and its elimination would result in the loss of two jobs.

Except for the USDA’s promise not to charge fees, Rob Richard, president of the Wisconsin Hemp Alliance, does not believe the transfer to federal control will make much of a difference for farmers.

Richard said, “I don’t think there should be much worry about it.” He believes that the lack of costs will make people happy.

In North Carolina, the legislature did not extend permission beyond the pilot program, which gives states greater leeway in implementing regulatory obligations including sampling and testing.

Using current resources to fund the program Wilson said that the incident “probably hampered some other things we need to be doing.”

Even in a state where a plan is likely to be submitted, operating the program under existing rules is undesirable.

Cary Giguere, director of plant health and agricultural resource management for Vermont’s Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, says, “We don’t want to be in a position where we’re condemning a product that we’ve allowed someone to produce.” “This isn’t the kind of place we want to be.”

He’s referring to the federal 0.3 percent level for tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive component in marijuana, beyond which hemp is classified as a prohibited drug and must be disposed of. Alternatively, the USDA’s final regulation, which was released in January, allows for some remediation techniques to lower the THC limit below the permissible level and raises the carelessness threshold from 0.5 percent to 1 percent.

Giguere had hoped that Congress would prolong the 2014 agricultural bill’s authority for states to conduct pilot projects, but it seems that this will not happen. The continuing resolution, which was approved by the House but rejected by the Senate, did not include any such wording.

“It seems that we have run out of time,” Giguere added.

“We are sure that if the THC level was 1%, we could operate a program,” Giguere added. “And we’ve been kicking the can down the road for a number of years now, both nationally and in Vermont and other states.”

Although farmers and the industry as a whole would want to see the THC limit in industrial hemp raised to 1%, they may have to wait until the farm bill is revised in 2023.

“I believe it will be included in the next agricultural bill,” Eric Steenstra, president of Vote Hemp, stated. He said he hasn’t heard much excitement about revisiting the agricultural bill before then in talks with congressional staff.

It doesn’t sit well with Giguere to be in charge of a procedure that might lead to a farmer being ordered to trash a portion of his or her harvest.

“In every other case, we’re collaborating with a farmer to ensure that their product makes it to market,” he adds. Even if a farmer did everything correctly, a grower’s hemp might test higher than 0.3 percent.

“If someone buys legal seed, plants it, and the produce isn’t compliant, there’s nothing the farmer did along the way to make that product be condemned,” he said.

The usda hemp grants 2021 is a decision that will have a huge effect on the cannabis industry. States are deciding whether to let the USDA handle hemp, which would allow for it to be regulated by the federal government.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which states have submitted hemp plans to USDA?


How many states allow hemp farming?


Is hemp USDA approved?

Yes, hemp is USDA approved.

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