Hemp Production Program Questions and Answers

Updated July 22, 2019

Why is the Department of Agriculture building a marketing program for the commercial production of hemp in the United States?

The 2018 Farm Bill (the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018) directed USDA to develop a program to review and approve plans submitted by each State, territory and Indian tribal agency outlining their production of hemp for commercial uses.

What is the purpose of the production plans?

Each state, territory and Indian tribal agency’s plan will provide details on practices and procedures that enable hemp producers in their jurisdiction to operate according to their individual plan and in compliance with federal laws.

Who can submit production plans to USDA for consideration?

The 2018 Farm Bill authorizes State departments of agriculture, including agencies representing the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, any other territory or possession of the United States, and Indian tribal governments, to submit plans to USDA for consideration.

May state or tribal nations submit plans now to the USDA for review and approval?

It is USDA’s intention to have regulations in effect by the Fall of 2019 to accommodate the 2020 planting season.  Should a state or tribal nation submit a plan before that time, USDA will not review or approve such plans until regulations are implemented. 

What should each plan include?

As required by Sec. 297B of the Farm Bill, each plan must describe: (1) a practice to maintain relevant information regarding land on which hemp is produced in the state or territory of the Indian Tribe; (2) a procedure for testing, using post-decarboxylation or other similarly reliable methods, delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration to ensure levels are not more than .3% on a dry matter basis in hemp produced in the state or territory of the Indian Tribe; (3) a procedure for the effective disposal of plants and products produced in violation of this subtitle; (4) a procedure to comply with law enforcement procedures; (5) a procedure for conducting annual inspections of hemp producers; (6) a procedure for submitting information on hemp producers to USDA; and (7) a certification that the state or Indian Tribe has the resources and personnel to carry out the practices and procedures described above.

How should state, territory and Indian tribal agencies submit their plans to USDA?

USDA accepts plans via email or postal mail. State departments of agriculture, including agencies representing the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, any other territory or possession of the United States, and Indian tribal governments, may submit their plans to the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Specialty Crops Program using:

Email: farmbill.hemp@usda.gov

or

Postal mail:
Deputy Administrator
Specialty Crops Program
USDA Agricultural Marketing Service
1400 Independence Avenue SW
Room 2077-S, Stop 0235
Washington, D.C. 20250-0235

When can growers begin planting hemp in compliance with the authorities of the 2018 Farm Bill?

Until the USDA regulation is finalized and published in the Federal Register, research and development initiatives authorized in the 2014 Farm Bill remain in effect.

How can groups and individuals learn more about activities related to USDA’s development of regulations for the commercial production of hemp?

USDA will continue to update resources for both the public and industry. In addition, USDA conducted a listening session on March 13, 2019, to provide the public an opportunity to present suggestions on various aspects of the regulations under development. USDA also conducted a listening session and a meeting with representatives of multiple Indian Tribes May 1-2, 2019, to give them an opportunity to provide additional input.

Can Indian Tribes grow hemp under the terms of the 2014 Farm Bill?

In a Notice to Trade dated May 28, 2019, USDA clarified that Indian Tribes are eligible to partner with institutions of higher education or states to grow hemp for research purposes in the 2019 growing season.

In instances when a state or Indian Tribe does not submit a plan to USDA, can individual producers in those states or Indian Tribes apply to produce hemp on their own behalf to USDA for consideration?

Yes, if the production of hemp is not otherwise prohibited by the state or Indian Tribe, the 2018 Farm Bill authorizes USDA to develop a USDA plan under which individual producers can apply for a license to operate according to future regulations.  In those instances, individual producers would be subject to a plan established by the federal government. USDA encourages individual producers to engage with their state agency or tribal government prior to submitting individual plans to USDA to avoid duplicate submissions.

Once USDA publishes regulations for the production of hemp, may a state or tribal nation initially use the USDA hemp production plan and later submit their own plan for approval and use.

Yes. States and Indian tribal nations may use the USDA plan initially and then, at some later date, submit their own plan to USDA for approval to begin their own oversight of hemp production.

Where can producers get information on growing hemp?

The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture has assembled a list of Grower Contacts for Hemp Information. For additional information, please also contact your state’s Department of Agriculture. Tribal nations should contact their tribal authorities.

How do I import hemp seeds into the U.S.?

Please see the following: Notice on Importation of Hemp Seeds

How do I export hemp and hemp related products?

Export requirements for hemp and hemp related products do not fall under USDA jurisdiction and we are not able to offer any resources at this time.

Does USDA offer patent protection for hemp varietals?

Yes, the USDA plant variety protection program offers intellectual property protection to hemp breeders. 

Other Helpful Links:

View the AMS Hemp Production page for an overview of the USDA program.

For information on the availability of grant funding from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), please see NIFA’s Industrial Hemp page.

For information on mailing hemp and hemp related products through U.S. mail, please see U.S. Postal Service Publication 52 Revision: New Mailability Policy for Cannabis and Hemp-Related Products.

For information about importing hemp seeds please see the U.S. Customs and Border Protection page on Importing hemp seeds into the U.S.

For information on cannabis and cannabis derived products, including foods and CBD, please see the Food and Drug Administration’s Regulation of Cannabis and Cannabis-Derived Products: Questions and Answers.

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Publication Date: 
06/19
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