Montana’s Hemp Plan Approved by USDA

Montana Landscape
  • The state of Montana’s hemp production plan was approved by the USDA late last week.
  • Montana plans to implement their new rules after the 2020 growing season.
  • Montana currently abides by the laws set in the 2014 Farm Bill.

Agriculture officials in the state of Montana have successfully gained approval from the federal government for the state’s hemp production plan. They have chosen to initiate their new rules after the 2020 production season has ended. Their current pilot rules set in place will expire on October 31st.

The Montana Department of Agriculture originally submitted their plan on January 9th of this year and gained approval for it from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Friday. Upon gaining approval, MDA Director Ben Thomas informed state farmers to “expect procedures similar to those implemented in 2019 for the 2020 growing season.”

“I’m pleased with USDA’s approval of our plan, but still see a need to advocate for what will work best in Montana,” Thomas stated.

Federal law allows for states, territories, and tribes to create their own rules for hemp production. Once they are clearly established, they can be submitted for approval by the federal government. Because this process is still relatively new it will take different states and territories a little time in order to perfect their laws and create a system that is fair for every level of the industry.

With no deadline set on testing their new laws, Montana is choosing to abide by the rules set in the 2014 Farm Bill for the upcoming growing season.

“Because the hemp industry is so new, and growing conditions can vary so much from state to state, there’s still potential for improving oversight at the federal level,” Thomas stated.

Compromises

During the approval process, compromises were made between the state and federal authorities.

The biggest area of compromise between the two was with sampling protocols. The USDA requires that law enforcement visits farms during a 15-day period shortly before harvest. Montana did not originally abide by this rule, but has amended its plan to cooperate with the new rules.

In 2019, Montana licensed over 250 growers with a combined acreage of over 40,000 acres.

Wrap Up

Montana is one of the few states recently that has been actively trying to grow their hemp industry. Now that their own rules have gained approval from the USDA, they can begin to test the waters and determine the best method for growing their industry.

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