Green Light For Minnesota’s Revised Hemp Plan

Hemp in Minnesota
Image: Minnesota Department of Agriculture

Minnesota’s Department of Agriculture has welcomed the USDA’s approval of the state’s revised hemp plan.

The state’s original plan was approved in July last year, but after modifications were made to the USDA’s rules Minnesota needed to file a new plan.

Some of the changes included random sampling of fields being based on risk factors of the crop, allowing remediation of crops if plants exceed the 0.3% total THC threshold but test under 1%, and an extension of the testing window before harvest from 15 days to 30 days.

“This is a major step forward, and we’re pleased that modifications have been made at the federal level that can ensure Minnesota’s hemp growers and processors are successful in this fledging industry,” said Minnesota Department of Agriculture Assistant Commissioner Whitney Place.

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Prior to this year and like a number of other states, Minnesota had been operating under a pilot program.

In 2015, the Minnesota Industrial Hemp Development Act became law, allowing the Department to create a hemp pilot program that operated from 2016 through 2020. The pilot started off slowly, but gained significant steam in the final couple of years. The following statistics show the number of permitted growers each year since 2016.

  • 2016: 6
  • 2017: 33
  • 2018: 43
  • 2019: 350
  • 2020: 461

Total outdoor acres planted grew from just 38 in 2016 to 5,808 in 2020, which was a reduction on 2019’s 7,353 acres. In terms of indoor square feet planted, in 2016 it was zero and in 2020 reached 1,460,328 square feet. The number of processors has also seen significant growth, from zero in 2016 to 77 in 2020.

As for this year’s season, the Department received 454 applications for 2021 licenses, with the application period closing at the end of April. Not all of those applicants will be successful, so the number of approved growers for this year may be well down on last year. Minnesota won’t be alone in this – other states will also have reduced numbers of growers as “green fever” has worn off to some degree and the complexities of hemp farming have become more apparent.

The application period for Minnesota’s 2022 hemp season will open on November 1, 2021.