The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved Michigan’s industrial hemp plan, which will go into effect on December 1. The state had been operating under a 2019 pilot program that licensed 631 cultivators and 517 processor-handlers this year.
Under the plan, growers will no longer be able to collect their own samples for analysis at Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) laboratories. Instead, growers must contact the agency to schedule an appointment for agency staff to collect the samples. The hemp must be harvested within 15 days of the test results. The plan also includes specific methods for destroying crops that are determined to be non-compliant.
The rules require cultivators to provide a “legal description” of the property the hemp is grown on and provide that information to the USDA Farm Services Agency. Under the current rules, growers already had to provide an address, GPS coordinates, acreage and maps.
The pilot program requires all applicants to submit a criminal drug history, and the new rules require growers with any felony drug convictions outside of Michigan to submit a Federal Bureau of Investigation background check.
In a press release, Republican state Senator Dan Lauwers, who sponsored the Industrial Hemp Growers Act, called the state’s pilot program “a great success” and that “Michigan farmers will benefit greatly from being able to grow hemp under the 2018 Farm Bill and Michigan’s USDA approved Hemp Growers Program.”
The approval brings the total of USDA-approved state hemp plans to 29, along with approved plans for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. According to the USDA website, 11 submitted plans remain under review, four states will operate under USDA rules, and three are continuing under their 2014 pilot programs.
Alaska is the only state listed as “drafting a plan” for USDA review, Colorado’s plan is “pending resubmission,” while Idaho has not submitted any hemp plan for the agency as it still has pending legislation to legalize the crop.