USDA approves Minnesota’s revised hemp plan

USDA approves Minnesota’s revised hemp plan

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved Minnesota’s revised hemp plan on May 10. This plan determines how hemp can be produced and how it will be regulated in the state. The USDA had already approved a Minnesota hemp plan last year, but the federal organization reportedly requested certain revisions.

“I think that the USDA approval is a win for the Department of Agriculture in that we have these clear regulations and requirements that we are going to implement,” Minnesota Department of Agriculture Assistant Commissioner Whitney Place told Fox News.

“Our next step in the process will be to write our state rules for the industrial hemp program,” she reportedly added.

Why were changes needed?

This will be the first year that Minnesota’s hemp program will operate under the new, federally approved state plan. Previously, Minnesota had been operating under the 2014 pilot program.

According to Minnesota Department of Agriculture release, the 2018 Federal Farm Bill that legalized hemp required states to submit their plans for USDA approval if the states wanted to oversee their own commercial hemp program. Minnesota’s plan was approved in July 2020.

However, the USDA made changes between their interim rule on hemp and their final rule on hemp, which meant that Minnesota needed to revise their state plan as well. The state’s revised plan was submitted to the USDA, and it was approved May 10.

Four noteworthy changes

The changes incorporated into Minnesota’s revised plan seem to reflect the changes that the USDA adopted as part of their final rule on hemp, which was approved on January 15 and took effect on March 22.

Some of these changes include:

  • Longer testing window – Hemp crops must be tested for compliant THC content in the days before harvest. Minnesota’s revised hemp plan extends the former 15-day testing window to a 30-day testing window.
  • Increased inspection flexibility – After the approval of Minnesota’s new plan, the random sampling of fields will be based on the risk factors of the crop.
  • Allowed remediation – The previous plan did not allow plants to be remediated if the THC content of a hemp crop was over the legal threshold. However, the new plan allows remediation if the plants exceed the 0.3% THC limit but test under 1% total THC.
  • Limitations on annual violations – The state’s previous plan allowed growers to receive an unlimited number of negligent violations in a year. The new plan changes this so that growers can only receive one violation per year. This can help protect farmers who grow in more than one location from receiving multiple violations in one year and inadvertently triggering a five-year ban.

“We thank the USDA for their work on this new federal hemp program, and we are grateful they have approved Minnesota’s revised plan,” Place said in a release. “This is a major step forward, and we’re pleased that modifications have been made at the federal level that can ensure Minnesota’s hemp growers and processors are successful in this fledging industry.”