Alert: NC Hemp Grower License Program Ends Dec. 31, 2021

8/18/2021 – On August 5, the NC Industrial Hemp Commission held a meeting to discuss the future of the NC Industrial Hemp Pilot Program. At that meeting, the decision was made to end the NC Hemp Pilot Program on December 31, 2021. As stated in a letter sent yesterday by Paul Adams, Industrial Hemp Program Manager, N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Plant Industry Division, to NC hemp license holders, “Per the 2018 Agricultural Improvement Act (Federal Farm Bill) the USDA was tasked with creating a program to govern hemp production nationwide resulting in the Domestic Hemp Production Program, the Final Rule, and the expiration of state Hemp Pilot Programs. States were given a choice to submit a plan to USDA for approval or the option to allow USDA to take over the program. North Carolina has submitted a letter to USDA stating that we intend for USDA to run the hemp program here.”

Paraphrasing from the rest of his letter: Thus, NC Hemp grower licenses will not  be valid after December 31, 2021. To continue, or to begin, producing hemp in North Carolina in 2022 you will need to apply to the USDA’s hemp program. The USDA has rolling enrollment and for growers maintaining mother plants, year-round greenhouse grows, indoor grows, or other winter production you will need to be licensed by the USDA prior to January 1, 2022. While you can submit an application now, it may take several weeks for USDA to begin processing NC applications, but you should definitely apply before January 1, 2022. Questions about the USDA’s hemp program can be sent to farmbill.hemp@usda.gov  or call at 202-720-2491 

This very helpful checklist was also included with the letter. It will be useful to existing and new North Carolina hemp growers:

North Carolina Hemp Producer Checklist for Transitioning to the USDA Hemp Production Program

Here are the first steps current North Carolina licensees can take to ensure a smooth transition:

  1. Create an eAuthorization Account

Creating a USDA eAuthentication (eAuth) account is the first step in applying for a USDA license. Once your eAuth account is established, you will be able to access  the Hemp eManagement Platform (HeMP). HeMP is the secure online tool where you will apply for a USDA hemp production license and manage hemp reporting information for USDA.

  1. Obtain a copy of your FBI criminal history report

You will need to provide a copy of the criminal history report for yourself and each “key participant” under your license. If you have had a felony conviction related to a controlled substance during the last 10 years, your license application will be denied.

  1. Register to use the Hemp eManagement Platform (HeMP)

Detailed instructions on how to use and register for this system will be published on the USDA website. HeMP is the secure online tool where you will apply for a USDA hemp production license and manage hemp reporting information for USDA.

  1. Apply for a license

Follow the instructions on the HeMP online tool to apply for a USDA hemp production license. You will need to provide certain required information and upload a copy of your FBI criminal history report.

  1. Designate your lots

A “Lot” is defined as a contiguous area in a field, greenhouse, or indoor growing structure planted with the same variety or strain of hemp. You may establish as many separate lots as you wish, but each lot must be sampled and tested separately. If you plant different varieties or strains or plant across non-contiguous land areas, you must designate separate lots. You are responsible for all sampling and testing fees for each of your designated lots. There is no restriction on the size of a hemp lot or the number of lots designated.

This step is critical for indoor growers who will not have harvested prior to January 1, 2022. All hemp harvested after January 1, 2022, is subject to USDA sampling and testing requirements. If planting in the Fall of 2021 with an anticipated 2022 harvest, you must designate your lot(s) per USDA requirements. Each lot will be sampled and tested separately.

  1. Report hemp acreage to FSA

All USDA licensees must report the land area where hemp is planted. Immediately after planting hemp, contact your local USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Service Center and make an appointment to establish your Farm record (if not already established) and report your hemp crop acreage.

You must provide a copy of your hemp license and documents showing ownership or lease on the land under hemp production. You will need to provide planting date, GPS coordinates, crop type, intended use, size of each growing location, and irrigation practice. FSA will assign an FSA Lot ID for each of your planted hemp lots. The FSA Lot ID is a combination of the following assigned numbers:  Farm-Tract-Field-Subfield (if applicable). Each FSA Lot ID must be sampled and tested separately.

  1. Sampling and testing

You are responsible for finding, and paying for, your own sampling agent and laboratory testing facility. USDA does not sample nor test hemp. First, identify a certified hemp sampling agent (A listing will be available on the USDA website). Licensees may not act as sampling agents. Next, identify a laboratory to test your sample for Total THC. You may use any laboratory that meets the USDA minimum performance requirements. Laboratories must test for Total THC concentration and report all test results to you and USDA.

  1. Reporting requirements

As a USDA licensed hemp producer, you are required to submit certain information to USDA throughout the year. This will be explained during the webinar in September and in educational materials provided with your license.

Source:  https://hemp.ces.ncsu.edu/2021/08/nc-hemp-grower-license-program-ends-dec-31-2021/

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