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Applications open for industrial hemp program

Online applications are now open for anyone wishing to grow or process hemp in Minnesota in 2021, according to a press release. A license from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture is required for individuals and businesses.

Applications must be submitted by April 30, 2021, and a license is good for the 2021 calendar year.

The application can be found on the MDA website at www.mda.state.mn.us/industrialhemp. Along with the online form, first-time applicants need to submit fingerprints and pass a criminal background check.

This will be the first time the program will be operating under a new, federally approved state plan that governs production and regulation. When the 2018 Federal Farm Bill legalized hemp as an agricultural commodity, it also required states and tribal nations to submit plans to the U.S. Department of Agriculture if governments wanted to oversee their own commercial program. In July, USDA approved the state of Minnesota’s plan. Some highlights include:

• Licensed growers must submit a Planting/Harvest Report Form after planting to notify the MDA of an anticipated harvest date.

• Growers must also report their hemp acreage to their local USDA Farm Service Agency office.

• A hemp crop must be tested no more than 15 days before harvest to ensure the plants fall below the 0.3% total tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) level.

Prior to 2021, Minnesota had been operating under a pilot program.

“This coming year marks a new chapter in Minnesota’s Industrial Hemp Program,” said MDA Assistant Commissioner Whitney Place. “We are excited to take this next step forward in hemp production and processing, and we look forward to working with growers and processors so that everyone can be successful in this fledgling industry.”

Questions about the MDA’s industrial hemp program should be sent to hemp.mda@state.mn.us or 651-201-6600.

Industrial hemp and marijuana are both types of the same plant, Cannabis sativa. They differ by the concentration level of the psychoactive compound THC within the plant. Hemp has less than 0.3% THC, and levels above that are considered marijuana.

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