Michigan Receives Federal Approval of Hemp Plan, Causes Changes for Growers

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development received federal approval of the state’s Industrial Hemp Plan, which establishes regulatory requirements for cultivating industrial hemp and gives the MDARD primary oversight of industrial hemp production in the state.
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marijuana plants
MDARD received federal approval of the state’s Industrial Hemp Plan, giving MDARD primary oversight of industrial hemp production. // Stock photo

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development received federal approval of the state’s Industrial Hemp Plan, which establishes regulatory requirements for cultivating industrial hemp and gives the MDARD primary oversight of industrial hemp production in the state.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s approval means Michigan’s plan complies with the 2018 Farm Bill requirements and USDA’s Interim Final Rule. The plan will go into effect Dec. 1.

In April 2019, MDARD established the state’s first Industrial Hemp Ag Pilot Program so farmers, processors, and colleges and universities could grow, handle, process, and research industrial hemp. The program continued into the 2020 growing season, with 631 growers and 517 processor-handlers registered and/or licensed to grow, process, and market industrial hemp.

“The success of the pilot program has paved the way for cultivation and expansion of Michigan’s new crop,” says Gary McDowell, director of MDARD. “The approval of the state plan is a testament to the hard work our team has put in over the last 22 months developing the regulatory framework for growers to diversify their operations.”

Sen. Dan Lauwers (R-Brockway Township) sponsored the Industrial Hemp Growers Act (Senate Bill 850) to align Michigan’s Industrial Hemp laws with USDA’s Interim Final Rule. Public Act 137 of 2020 enabled Michigan to submit the state plan for approval and keeps Michigan farmers compliant with federal requirements to grow industrial hemp.

“Michigan’s pilot program for industrial hemp has been a great success,” Lauwers says. “There is increasing interest in this crop in a wide variety of sectors. Michigan farmers will benefit greatly from being able to grow hemp, under the 2018 Farm Bill and Michigan’s USDA approved Hemp Growers Program.”

MDARD will implement the state hemp plan in tandem with the beginning of the 2021 grower registration cycle. Key changes include:

  • Growers will no longer be able to collect their own samples for submission to MDARD’s laboratory for THC analysis. Instead, they will have to contact the department to schedule an appointment for MDARD staff to collect samples.
  • Growers are required to provide a legal description of the property they intend to grow hemp on. This is in addition to the already required address, GPS coordinates, acreage, and maps of growing areas. Growers also will be required to submit their hemp acreage directly to USDA’s Farm Service Agency.
  • The requirement for growers to harvest their compliant hemp within 15 days of receiving their analysis results will continue in the 2021 growing season.
  • The state plan includes specific methods of destroying industrial hemp determined to be non-compliant. Growers must follow specific notification requirements before destruction.
  • Grower registration applicants must continue to submit a criminal history report. The report is required to include any felony drug convictions occurring outside of Michigan that will require growers to use an FBI background check tool rather than the previous ICHAT tool.

MDARD will send out email updates to hemp growers in November. Anyone interested in hemp program updates can register here.

For more information on Michigan’s hemp industry, read the cover story from DBusiness’ November/December 2019 issue.

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