Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved the State of Minnesota’s hemp production plan. The plan governs the production and regulation of hemp in Minnesota and needed federal approval as part of the USDA’s U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program. While the plan is now approved, Minnesota will continue to operate under the state’s pilot program.
Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen issued the following statement regarding USDA’s approval of Minnesota’s hemp production plan:
“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. 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.”
The 2014 federal Farm Bill allowed for pilot programs to study the growth, cultivation, and marketing of hemp. It was the first time hemp was legally allowed to be grown in the United States in decades. 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.
Industrial hemp and marijuana are both types of the same plant, Cannabis sativa. They differ by the concentration level of the psychoactive ingredient delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) within the plant. Hemp has less than 0.3% THC, and levels above that are considered marijuana.
Allen Sommerfeld, MDA Communications