The U.S. Department of Agriculture approved hemp programs for South Carolina and Georgia this week, bringing the total of approved plans by the agency to 14.
Georgia‘s program had been placed on hold by the USDA last year but the federal agency signed off on the plan after state lawmakers approved $200,000 to regulate the program for the coming season and approved additional funding for the next fiscal year, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Following the approval, the Georgia Department of Agriculture immediately received 57 cultivation license and five processing license requests.
Georgia will allow in-state CBD production; currently, CBD products are legally available but all products come from out-of-state.
Hemp farmers in the state will pay $50 per acre – up to $5,000 – annually, while processors will pay an initial $25,000 fee and another $10,000 annually. Julie McPeake, a state Agriculture Department spokeswoman, told the AJC that the department is about 20 days behind in issuing licenses because the agency is stretched thin helping farmers respond to the fallout from the coronavirus.
In South Carolina, the hemp farming application period for the upcoming season has already closed but the state Agriculture Department is accepting applications for next year throughout the rest of 2020, the agency said in a press release, noting that 350 people applied to farm hemp this season.
“The State Plan, authorized by the South Carolina General Assembly and the 2018 federal Farm Bill, will end an era of regulatory flux for South Carolina’s hemp industry, bringing the state’s three-year-old Hemp Farming Program into line with other states and establishing more permanent regulations.” – South Carolina Department of Agriculture, in a press release
Under the federally-approved rules, the state program now includes new laboratory testing methods and “stricter adherence to the 0.3 percent THC threshold” that delineates hemp from THC-rich cannabis. The rules also mandate that the state Agriculture Department must sample every hemp field prior to harvest.
In all, 17 states are still operating under their 2014 pilot hemp programs, and six state programs are still pending USDA review. Connecticut and Tennessee are listed as having submitted a plan to the agency that required resubmission. Other states not pending review are currently drafting plans, according to agency data. Regulators have also approved 14 tribal hemp production plans and list another 16 as under review.
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