Hemp Production Program Questions and Answers

Updated October 29, 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 regulatory oversight program for hemp.  The program includes provisions for the USDA to approve plans submitted by States and Indian Tribes for the domestic production of hemp.  It also establishes a federal plan for producers in States or territories of Indian tribes that do not have their own USDA-approved plan and the production of hemp is legal.

What is the purpose of the production plans?

Each State or Tribal 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.

When the rule is published, may state or tribal nations submit plans for USDA to review and approve?

Yes, USDA will accept plans as soon as the rules are published in the Federal Register.

What should each plan include?

The regulations found at 7 CFR, Part 990, “Domestic Hemp Production” outline the requirements necessary for States and Tribes to administer regulatory programs over hemp production within their boundaries. We have compiled a document which outlines the basic elements necessary for each plan. Please view the State and Tribal Government Plan Requirements (pdf) for more details.

How should States and Indian Tribes submit their plans to USDA?

After the regulations are published, USDA will accept plans via e-mail 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:

USDA/AMS/Specialty Crops Program
Hemp Branch
470 L’Enfant Plaza S.W.
P.O. Box 23192
Washington, D.C. 20026

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

Growers must first be licensed or authorized under a State hemp program, a Tribal hemp program, or the USDA hemp program. The program you are licensed under depends on the location of your hemp growing facility. The first step is to contact your State department of agriculture or Tribal government to confirm whether a production plan has been submitted to or approved by USDA.  If your State or Tribe has an approved plan or is in the process of developing a plan, you must apply and be licensed or authorized under its hemp program.  If they do not have a plan nor intend to have a plan, you can apply for a license to become a producer under the USDA hemp production program. USDA will maintain a list of States and Tribes that have been approved on our website. You cannot receive a hemp production license from a State, Tribe, or USDA, if you have been convicted of a felony related to a controlled substance in the last 10 years.

May a State or Tribe initially allow producers to use the USDA Domestic Hemp Production Program and later submit their own plan for approval and use?

Yes. States and Indian Tribes may use the USDA plan initially and then, at some later date, submit their own plan to USDA for approval. USDA producer licenses are invalid once the State or Tribe begins to issue licenses under their own jurisdiction.

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. We have provided a list of contacts for State Department of Agriculture hemp programs.

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.  Once published, the rule is asking comments and information in this regard.

Does USDA offer patent protection for hemp varietals?

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

Once a hemp producer has been licensed or authorized under a state, tribe or the USDA hemp plan, can the crop qualify for certification under the National Organic Program (NOP)?

Hemp produced in the U.S. under the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program may be certified as organic under USDA organic regulations. USDA accredited certifiers and farms should direct questions about the status of their state or tribe hemp program to state and tribe officials. For imported hemp, existing regulations and guidelines continue to govern whether products may be certified as organic.

Other Helpful Links:

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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