North Carolina will Wrap up Hemp Pilot Program as Federal Regulatory Program Takes Effect

Hemp growing on a farm in Bunn, NC (Franklin County). Photo: Kay Whatley
Hemp growing on a farm in Bunn, NC (Franklin County). Photo: Kay Whatley

North Carolina farmers interested in growing hemp in 2022 will begin getting their licenses from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) as North Carolina wraps up its pilot program in conjunction with federal rules going into effect this year.

Letters will soon be sent to the 1,500 licensed hemp producers in the state notifying them of the change.

Said Phil Wilson, director of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDA&CS) Plant Industry Division, which has overseen licensing, inspection and regulation under the pilot program:  “We will be working with licensed growers as this transition takes place. 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.”

The federal Farm Bill of 2018 established the regulatory framework for a US Domestic Hemp Production Program managed by USDA, which North Carolina will fall under beginning January 1, 2022. Information on the program, including requirements and the application can be found at www.ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/hemp/information-producers.

 

Background

The federal Agricultural Act of 2014 (P.L. 113-79) provided that certain research institutions and state departments of agriculture could grow industrial hemp, as part of an agricultural pilot program. As a result of that legislation, the NC General Assembly passed Senate Bill 313 in 2015, allowing the NC Industrial Hemp Commission to develop the rules and licensing structure necessary to stay within federal laws, thereby legalizing hemp production in North Carolina.

The law was modified in 2016 in House Bill 992.

The NC Industrial Hemp Commission adopted temporary rules for review in February 2017; these were approved by the Rules Review Commission of the Office of Administrative Hearings.

Interest has been strong since the pilot program began. As of July 30, 2021 there are 1,500 licensed hemp growers in the state. Crop production numbers includes 6.8 million licensed square feet of greenhouse production and 14,016 licensed acres. In addition, there are 1,295 registered processors.

NCDA&CS will continue to assist growers with questions by submitting those to industrialhemprequests@ncagr.gov.

See more about the state’s Industrial Hemp Pilot Program at www.ncagr.gov/hemp, and plan to join the upcoming public meeting via conference call on August 18, 2021.

 

Source: Phil Wilson, NCDA&CS Plant Industry Division

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