Minnesota joins the growing cast of U.S. states with approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to embark on a new hemp program. The application window will open in October.
As the industrial hemp pilot programs of yesteryear face expiration this fall, state departments of agriculture are firming up their plans with the USDA to fall in line with the interim final rule (and, eventually, the final rule itself). Many states, including Minnesota, took the 2020 growing season to work one last year under the old pilot program authority.
Minnesota’s pilot program began in 2016 with six growers. In 2019, according to the state department of agriculture, 550 growers/processors planted more than 7,300 acres and 400,000 indoor square feet of industrial hemp. This year, 511 growers/processors are working with 8,605 licensed hemp acres and 4.66 million licensed indoor square feet.
“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,” Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen said in a public statement. “We look forward to continuing our dialog with USDA so we can ensure Minnesota’s hemp growers and processors are successful in this fledgling industry.”
Within the borders of Minnesota, tribal hemp plans are on the table, as well. The Red Lake Band of Chippewa received USDA approval, and the Lower Sioux Indian Community are awaiting word from the department.