The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDA) has announced it will eliminate its state-run hemp program by the end of 2021.
On Jan. 1, 2022, growers in the state will switch to operating under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which will monitor North Carolina’s hemp program.
According to a press release from the NCDA, there are approximately 1,500 licensed hemp growers in the state who have registered roughly 6.8 million licensed square feet of greenhouse production and 14,016 licensed acres. Additionally, there are nearly 1,300 registered processors in the state. All licenses issued by the state’s pilot program will remain valid until Dec. 31.
However, beginning Jan. 1, 2022, North Carolina farmers interested in growing hemp will need to seek licensure directly from the USDA, the release states.
“We will be working with licensed growers as this transition takes place,” said Phil Wilson, director of the NCDA Plant Industry Division, in a press release. “We will extend the licenses of growers who will need to renew between now and Jan. 1, 2022, to ensure there is no lapse in them having a valid license. Growers wanting to continue production can go ahead and begin the application process now through USDA’s online hemp application.”
According to an article from JD Supra, growers may want to begin the application process as soon as possible to ensure they have a USDA license by the beginning of next year to continue operations and avoid any challenges.
And greenhouse growers looking to plant later this year should look to apply for a license even sooner, as a USDA license will be required for them to harvest in 2022, according to the article.
Furthermore, the article states farmers will no longer work alongside the NCDA to conduct compliance testing. Moving forward, growers will need to perform testing elsewhere and change existing operations to be in compliance with the USDA.
More information regarding the program and the application can be found here.