The 2018 Farm Bill paved the way for a hemp growing program in the United States. There had been significant push in prior years to make this happen. In October of 2019, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) unveiled their rules for how hemp production would be governed, and that states could begin submitting their applications to USDA for approval. So, where does that leave Iowa?
Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig says Iowa has submitted a formal plan to the USDA for approval. The state is still waiting for the USDA to approve the program. However, there is a comment period open on Iowa’s proposed program until January 22nd. You can find the information here.
Like with any new crop, there are going to be risks involved. Hemp will have protection programs from the USDA, just like other crops. Secretary Naig says growing the hemp is the easy part, producers will be able to maintain compliance with the help of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. The biggest risk Naig identified is making sure you have a market for your hemp. He cautions producers to have their plans in place before they just jump in with both feet.
A quick rundown of the basic rules:
- An individual farmer can legally grow up to 40 acres of hemp.
- This law legalizes the production, processing, and marketing of many, but not all, hemp products in Iowa. It does not legalize the recreational use of marijuana nor the over-the-counter sale of CBD.
- Plants with THC levels above 0.3 percent are still considered controlled substances in the state of Iowa and must be destroyed.
- The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship will regulate the production of hemp.
- Farmers must have a license from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship to grow hemp.