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Growing Industrial Hemp in Michigan
- 2018 Farm Bill
The 2018 Farm Bill legalizes industrial hemp and provides a federal framework for industrial hemp production by permitting hemp growers and processors, operating in states with hemp legislation, to engage in commercial hemp production. Under this framework, states desiring to regulate industrial hemp must have a hemp plan that that has been approved by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that monitors and regulates hemp production.
USDA intends to promulgate rules and provide guidance to states on hemp plan development and approval in time for the 2020 growing season. In the meantime, states continue to operate under the provisions of the 2014 Farm Bill that allow industrial hemp production by colleges and universities and state agriculture departments for research purposes.
- USDA Hemp Production Program Q&A
- Michigan Industrial Hemp Research and Development Act
The Michigan Industrial Hemp Research and Development Act, Public Act 641 of 2018 became effective on January 15, 2019. Among other things, PA 641 establishes a licensing program for persons engaged in the growing, processing and handling of industrial hemp.
Under PA 641, anyone who grows industrial hemp or processes, handles, brokers, or markets industrial hemp in Michigan, must obtain a registration or license from MDARD. Persons who obtain the appropriate registration or license will be able to grow, process, handle, broker, or market industrial hemp in conformance with Michigan law, however; because MDARD’s industrial hemp program has not yet been approved by USDA, a registration or license issued under PA 641 is not sufficient for a grower or processor-handler to conform to federal law. In order to be in conformance with both state and federal law, participation in an Ag Pilot Program is required.
- Michigan's 2019 Ag Pilot Program
The 2014 Farm Bill permits an institute of higher learning or MDARD to grow industrial hemp for research purposes as part of an agricultural pilot program. Persons who have obtained appropriate licensure under PA 641 may apply to MDARD to participate in Michigan's Industrial Hemp Ag-Pilot Program.
After approval, Ag-Pilot Program participants are required to enter into a Research Agreement with MDARD. Licenses and research agreements expire annually on November 30 and participants in the Industrial Hemp Ag-Pilot Program will need to reapply annually. Persons who obtain both the required registration and/or license under Michigan's Industrial Hemp Research and Development Act and comply with the terms of a Research Agreement will be considered by MDARD to be conducting research on behalf of the Department as permitted under the 2014 Farm Bill.