March 31 deadline approaching for Minnesota hemp farmers and processors

Farmers and businesses planning to grow or process hemp in the state of Minnesota for the 2020 season must apply for a license with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) by March 31.

Minnesota’s Industrial Hemp Program is entering its fifth year. In 2019, 550 people obtained licenses to grow or process hemp. More than 7,300 acres and 400,000 indoor square feet of hemp were planted in the state, according to a press release from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

Assistant Agriculture Commissioner Whitney Place says, “We believe in the potential of the developing industry. We want to ensure that everyone who would like to grow and process hemp in Minnesota is able to do so. They simply need to apply by March 31.”

To apply for a license, visit the MDA website. First-time applicants will need to submit fingerprints and pass a criminal background check in addition to the application. Applicants must register their specific growing and processing locations and pay the annual program fees. A spokesperson for the MDA says there is no cap on the number of applications the program will accept.

Renewing applicants will find out within a week of submission whether their application was approved. First-time applicants can expect notification of their approval within three to four weeks, depending how quickly they submit their fingerprints and request the background check, the spokesperson says.

The 2018 Federal Farm Bill legalized hemp as an agricultural commodity. In October 2019, the USDA released an interim final rule that outlined state and tribal plans for growing hemp. Minnesota is continuing its existing pilot program in 2020.

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