The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has provided additional time for those wanting to grow and process hemp in the state this year to apply for a license.
In Minnesota, hemp licences expire on December 31 of the year issued. Each year, licensees must reapply to be included in the program. The reason provided by the MDA for the extension this year is to accommodate all potential applicants who are awaiting legislative action on cannabis.
A grower license starts at $400 and the minimum cost of a processor license is $500. For 2023, the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) testing fees per grower sample will cost $100.
There’s an online application form available until April 30, and after that time, interested parties will need to complete and submit a paper application. Further details are available here.
According to the MDA, 293 parties held licenses to grow or process hemp last year, and more than 375 acres and 122,040 indoor square feet were planted in the state. However, the USDA’s recently released National Hemp Report indicates very different figures (as do other MDA stats). It states 710 acres were planted, a huge drop on 2021’s 2,650 acres. And even 2021 wasn’t Minnesota’s biggest year for outdoor acreage planted – that occurred in 2019 (7,353 acres). Also that year, there was 403,304 indoor square footage planted – more than three times as much as in 2022.
The major drop-off in 2022 was by no means confined to Minnesota. Across the USA the total area harvested for all industrial hemp purposes totaled 18,251, down 45 percent from 2021.
For the 2023 growing season so far, more 230 people have applied for an MDA hemp license – so there is still a significant amount of interest even if the state’s “green fever” has broken.
The state’s program is now in its 8th year, originally operating under a pilot program from 2016 through 2020 under provisions in the federal 2014 Farm Bill. The subsequent 2018 Farm Bill officially legalized hemp cultivation, and each state and tribal authority then needed to submit a plan for approval to USDA if they wished to continue regulating hemp at the state/tribal level. Minnesota’s State Plan was approved on May 6, 2021.