The US Department of Agriculture announced on Monday that it had approved Nebraska’s plan to regulate hemp agriculture in the state. With the move, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture will begin accepting applications for licenses to grow, process, and sell hemp beginning on Monday.
Under the 2018 Farm Bill, industrial hemp was removed from the federal list of controlled substances. The measure also directed the USDA to create a regulatory oversight program for hemp agriculture including provisions for the approval of production plans submitted by states and Native American reservations. State and tribal production plans provide details on practices and procedures for hemp producers to operate in accordance with state and federal law.
The Nebraska Department of Agriculture submitted its hemp production plan to the USDA in December. The plan allows for up to 400 hemp cultivation sites and licenses for 270 cultivators, 30 processor-handlers, and 15 brokers. The agriculture department was also authorized to collect $236,000 in license fees to administer the state regulatory program. Growing, handling, or processing hemp without a required state license is against state law. Applications for hemp licenses will be available on the agency’s website beginning on February 3.
Nebraska’s regulations require that the agriculture department or a USDA-authorized contractor test samples of hemp within 15 days of harvest to ensure that the crop does not exceed federal THC limits. To legally qualify as hemp, plants must have a THC concentration of no more than 0.3%.
Texas and Delaware Plans Also Approved
In addition to Nebraska, the USDA said in its announcement on Monday that state hemp agriculture plans for Texas and Delaware had also been approved by the agency. Plans for four Native American communities including the Colorado River Indian Tribes, the Fort Belknap Indian Community, the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska, and the Yurok Tribe also received USDA approval.
In Texas, state Agricultural Commissioner Sid Miller said on Monday that the production of hemp would soon be a reality in the state.
“This is a victory for Texas farmers,” Miller said in a statement. “We are one step closer to giving our ag producers access to this exciting new crop opportunity.”
Miller added that it is not yet legal to start growing hemp, saying “we’ve got to get our rules approved and get our licensing program up and running, but the dominoes are dropping pretty quick. We’re almost there.”
In the announcement on Monday, federal regulators noted that the first approvals for state hemp agriculture plans were announced in December and that more are forthcoming.
“USDA continues to receive and review hemp production plans from states and Indian tribes on an ongoing basis,” the agency wrote. “Plans previously approved include those for the states of Louisiana, New Jersey, and Ohio, and the Flandreau Santee Sioux, Santa Rosa Cahuilla, and La Jolla Band of Luiseno Indian Tribes.”