Hemp In Iowa – Update

Hemp in Iowa

The open comment period for Iowa’s proposed hemp production rules and regulations kicked off last week.

Feedback on the the proposed administrative rules regulating planting, growing and harvesting of commercial hemp in Iowa will be accepted until January 22. On that day, a public hearing will also be held where interested parties can present their views verbally or in writing.

The state has also submitted its proposed hemp production plan to the USDA for approval, which occurred on December 11. The USDA status list currently shows the state’s plan as “under review” and the USDA has 60 days from the date of lodging to complete its review. This isn’t a rubber-stamping process as North Dakota recently discovered when its plan was rejected.

Once the plan gets a green light from the USDA, a notice is published indicating approval in the Iowa Administrative Bulletin and the state’s online licensing system is operational, prospective growers will be able to obtain a hemp license from the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship.

However, farmers won’t be able to grow a huge amount in any single crop site. While an applicant can hold any number of Iowa hemp licenses; no individual can hold a legal or equitable interest in a crop site larger than 40 acres.

The cost of licences will depend on the acreage grown. At the maximum allowed 40 acres, a licence will cost $1,200. Added to that is THC testing of the crop prior to harvest – an additional $1,000.

After testing, the farmer will have 15 days to harvest their crop before new samples are required. The reason for this is THC levels can increase over time; taking plants from being within the legal THC limit and turning them into what’s known as a “hot crop” – above 0.3% – and will have to be destroyed.

All going well, licensing should begin reasonably soon and participating farmers will be able to plant their first hemp crop in the coming spring.

There’s no indication yet as to how many farmers might apply for licences.

Iowa’s successful hemp bill, which passed the state’s legislature with overwhelming support, made its way to Governor Kim Reynolds’ desk in April last year and was signed into law on May 13, 2019.

More information on industrial hemp in Iowa can be found here.