Industrial Hemp Pilot Program Extended

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Thus far in 2020, the US House and Senate have not been able to agree on an actual 2020-2021 budget. One can find a silver lining in news that, on Thursday, October 1, 2020, the United States Congress passed a continuing budget resolution (i.e., agencies and budgets operate as they did last year) which also included a provision to extend the ability for states to continue operating hemp pilot programs under the provisions of the 2014 Farm Bill until September 20, 2021. This solution to the challenge of managing state hemp cultivation programs by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDA&CS) at the annual meeting of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture in February of 2020. NCDA&CS and others in the North Carolina hemp industry have worked with the North Carolina congressional delegation on this issue since that time and continue to express appreciation for their attention on this issue.

Tour group in hemp greenhouse

NCDA&CS, therefore, intends to continue operating its North Carolina Industrial Hemp Pilot Program in the present form until at least September 30, 2021. NCDA&CS does not currently have statutory authority from the General Assembly to submit a state plan to USDA to operate under the Interim Final Rule (IFR) for hemp as issued by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Moreover, several provisions in the IFR are problematic for hemp farmers and exceed the resources of NCDA&CS to administer. USDA has reopened the comment period for the IFR and encourages hemp farmers to submit comments.

So, what does that mean for North Carolina hemp licensees? Until at least September 30, 2021, the NC Industrial Hemp Pilot Program should operate as it has in past years. Any growers with licenses due to expire within that time frame wanting to continue growing hemp will need to renew licensure with the NCDA&CS Plant Industry Division.

NCDA&CS will continue to engage with USDA and other federal agencies on issues surrounding hemp production. NCDA&CS staff have committed to advocating for reasonable federal guidelines and the development of the overall market. For new applicants, the Industrial Hemp Commission will resume meeting to approve qualifying individuals for licenses to cultivate industrial hemp, with its next meeting to be held via teleconference on October 23, 2020.

For more information about the NCDA&CS Hemp Pilot Program, contact

Paul R. Adams III

Industrial Hemp Program Manager

NCDA&CS: Plant Industries

Email: Paul.adams@ncagr.gov

Work Cell: 910-604-1276

Office: 919-707-3735