INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana hemp growers and those who process the crop now have a better roadmap for the legal production of industrial hemp in the Hoosier state in 2020.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture released the proposed federal regulations Thursday, which launches a 60-day comment period.

“It gives the overall industry some certainty about the rules of the game,” says Bruce Kettler, director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture.

Though it is called an interim Final Rule, the USDA says those rules become effective immediately upon publication in the Federal Register

It establishes requirements for licensing, maintaining records on the land where hemp will be grown, testing the levels of THC — the active ingredient in marijuana that causes a high — and disposing of plants that don't meet the requirements.

The proposal includes provisions for the USDA to approve hemp production plans developed by states, including Indiana.

“Farmers will know what they have to do and how it has to be done because it will be a regulated industry,” added Kettler.

Kettler says the Office of the Indiana State Chemist is responsible for writing the administrative rules Indiana hemp growers must follow. Those state regulations will be submitted by Kettler to the USDA for agency approval.

“We hope the ability to grow hemp will pave the way for new products and markets,” said Sonny Perdue, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.

The USDA says it intends to respond within 60 days of a state submitting its administrative rules to see if they comply with the USDA and the 2018 Farm Bill.  

The 2018 law removed industrial hemp from the list of illegal drugs and required the USDA to set up a national hemp growing program “… that meets congressional intent while seeking to provide a fair, consistent and science-based process for states, tribes and individual producers who want to participate in this program,” said Perdue.

After the USDA approves state plans, hemp producers will be eligible for USDA programs including crop insurance coverage in the 2020 crop year.

Click here to learn more about hemp and Farm Bill programs.

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