One of the early bird states to submit its plan for hemp to the USDA has discovered it didn’t catch the worm.
There were a “lot of little things” that led to the rejection, the major reason being North Dakota’s plan didn’t cover adequate sampling and testing of crops as outlined in the USDA’s interim final rule, released in late October last year. This was a result of the way North Dakota’s Department of Agriculture understood laws associated with the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, which made hemp legal.
“We wrote our plan according to what the law is, or what was passed, in December of 2018, and were not in alignment with the rules and the regulations,” said State Agricultural Commissioner Doug Goehring.
Commissioner Goehring stated North Dakota didn’t build a budget for the extensive sampling and testing that will be required, but this doesn’t mean game over for North Dakota’s hemp aspirations. It is working with the USDA to iron out the kinks and seeking increased funding so sufficient sampling and testing protocols are in place.
“We’ll be meeting with the Secretary and working with AMS to try and figure out how we can potentially go forward,” stated Commissioner Goehring.
As for this year’s season, North Dakota will likely continue under the provisions of the 2014 Farm Bill, which is allowed for one year. This means those wanting to grow hemp will need to be associated with an agricultural or academic research program conducted by the North Dakota Department of Agriculture, an institution of higher education, or have a DEA-issued registration.
North Dakota had 64 licensed hemp growers last year, double the number in 2017. The first year of North Dakota’s pilot hemp program was 2016, after the passing of House Bill 1436 in 2015.
The USDA’s final interim rule is by no means set in stone – the comment period is still open and has seen a significant amount of feedback in relation to issues concerning sampling and testing.