How States and the USDA Will Work Together in Hemp

Every year that hemp is legal in the United States brings about changes and challenges for those in the industry. In 2022, the biggest update so far is that all hemp production in the country must comply with the 2018 Farm Bill. Prior to this year, there were exceptions and legacy programs still considered legal.

This change also means compliance with any regulations stemming from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Domestic Hemp Production Program.

Although this may not make things different everywhere, it’s good to know what you’re up against.

Bringing about change

There may be farmers out there who already operate under the regulations of the 2018 Farm Bill, but what brought everyone under a single umbrella was the expiration of the 2014 Farm Bill.

Under the 2014 Farm Bill, states could operate pilot programs to regulate hemp production. Limited federal oversight and the requirement to grow for research purposes was also vague enough to give states a lot of leeway.

Many pilot programs fell under the category of market research, allowing states to establish robust programs that enabled the production, processing and sale of hemp for a variety of uses and products. This was the loophole, so to speak, for selling CBD products prior to the 2018 Farm Bill legalizing it.

Now, states must also get a regulatory hemp program approved by the USDA, or allow the USDA to provide licenses to state growers on the state’s behalf..

Covering the basics

While the overarching change means having a state plan approved by the USDA, there are specifics for those in the industry to watch out for. The big thing is the requirement to submit a criminal history report prior to employment. Some state regulatory boards will most likely require this before you can get a farmer’s license, or really have any job in hemp.

For farmers, testing hemp crops for THC levels will still be a major focus for state regulatory boards. You’ll only possibly see exceptions for crops grown for educational research or those producing hemp fiber that are already under contract.

Each state sets a time window for when a hemp crop gets tested and to what laboratories samples get sent to for evaluation. A hot hemp crop, with THC levels about the legal limit of 0.3 percent, must get destroyed.

Additionally, for farmers, certain crop information must get sent to the USDA’s Farm Service Agency.

Positioning state regulators

Beyond how this may impact those working in hemp, the changes give state regulatory bodies a stronger footing. Aligning with the USDA, and having a certified plan in place, gives state departments consistency in messaging to farmers and manufacturers, as well as a louder voice in establishing regulations.

In Virginia, for example, the USDA’s approval of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ plan to regulate hemp production sets up VDACS to be the primary hemp production regulator in the state.

There’s no more confusion over what’s okay and what isn’t with the stricter adherence to the 2018 Farm Bill’s regulations and also with spelled out regulatory plans from each state.

Almost all states have a USDA-approved hemp plan, including:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey, New Mexico & New York
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming

Indian tribes, growing hemp on tribal land, must also submit a hemp plan for approval by the USDA.

Certain states have also deferred creating their own hemp plan and will allow the USDA to issue licenses directly to farmers. Those states are:

  • Hawaii
  • Mississippi
  • New Hampshire
  • North Carolina
  • Wisconsin

Regardless of how each state proceeds, the USDA is now involved, in one way or another, will all states’ regulatory plans when it comes to hemp.

Staying on top of state regulations for hemp

Although there have been a lot of changes for the hemp industry to stay on top of these past few years, 2022 may bring about some consistency. As regulatory plans get streamlined, and better aligned with the 2018 Farm Bill, the rules will become more obvious and hopefully less confusing.

To stay on top of what’s going on when it comes to the ‘rules’ of hemp, working with a trusted processing partner can ensure you stay on your game as well. At Arbor Vita8, we do just that. We make sure our farmers and manufacturers have a complete understanding of the local rules and regulations when it comes to hemp. We support them at every step of the process to ensure the highest level of profitability. Contact us today to learn more.


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