As states continue to fall in line with the USDA’s plan to oversee hemp production across the country by next year’s planting season, several remain in the “draft” phase with their own programs. While the USDA is willing to extend federal licenses to individual farmers in states without their own programs (Mississippi), the goal is for states like Colorado to design their own plan through the department of agriculture (or a related agency).
Colorado submitted its draft in June and has since been going back and forth with revisions, according to a recent Westword report.
“With our experience administering a hemp program in Colorado for the past five years, we were able to bring together leaders with expertise in every link of the hemp supply chain to help us understand the challenges we face in helping the industry to grow,” Brian Koontz, industrial hemp program manager for the Colorado Department of Agriculture, said in June.
That’s one source of tension for some states this year. Colorado has been overseeing licensed hemp farmers since launching its pilot program according to 2014 Farm Bill regulations. In 2020, the state licensed 62,000 acres of hemp to be grown—more than any other U.S. state.
Now, however, state ag officials are caught between the emerging know-how of hemp farmers in Colorado and the emerging oversight of the USDA in this relatively new American crop.
“As we have done from day one, CDA is working through the state plan submission and approval process in a careful and comprehensive manner to best serve the needs of Colorado,” Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture Kate Greenberg told Westword. “Given the many changes at the federal level, we are working hard to create a stable and sound regulatory environment so that Colorado’s hemp industry can continue to lead the nation.”
The state’s original draft plan included perspectives from “farmers, processors and product manufacturers, state and local government agencies, health care professionals, financial services providers, law enforcement and academic institutions,” according to Koontz.
Colorado is not the only state directed back to the drawing board. California, Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma and Utah are each awaiting approval, “pending resubmission,” by the USDA.