Important Update: North Carolina to Continue Industrial Hemp Pilot Program

— Written By Marne Coit
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10/1/2020 – As many of you are aware, the N.C. Industrial Hemp Pilot Program was set to expire on October 31, 2020. However, Congress passed a law in September that allows states to continue their pilot programs until September 20, 2021.

This means that for the time being the rules for growing hemp, licensing, compliance testing, etc. will remain the same in North Carolina. The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDA&CS) has notified all growers who currently hold a hemp license of this update.

There is additional detail in the letter NCDA&CS sent to growers, which is posted below:

“Dear North Carolina Hemp Licensee,

Today, the United States Congress passed a continuing budget resolution which included a provision to extend the ability for state’s to continue operating a hemp pilot program under the provisions of the 2014 Farm Bill until September 20, 2021. This was originally put forward by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDA&CS) at the annual meeting of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture in February of 2020. NCDA&CS and others in the North Carolina hemp industry have worked with our North Carolina congressional delegation on this issue since that time and am thankful to them for their attention on this issue.

NCDA&CS intends to continue operating our North Carolina Industrial Hemp Pilot Program as we have been until at least September 30, 2021. NCDA&CS does not currently have statutory authority from the General Assembly to submit a state plan to USDA to operate under the Interim Final Rule (IFR) for hemp as issued by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Moreover, several provisions in the IFR are problematic for hemp farmers and exceed the resources of NCDA&CS to administer. USDA has reopened the comment period for the IFR and we encourage hemp farmers to submit comments.

So, what does that mean for N.C. hemp licensees? Until at least September 30, 2021, we anticipate operating the NC Industrial Hemp Pilot Program as it has been operated in past years. If your license will expire during that time frame and you want to continue growing hemp, you will need to renew your license with the NCDA&CS Plant Industry Division. If circumstances change, we will provide you with as much notification as possible.

NCDA&CS will continue to engage with USDA and other federal agencies on issues surrounding hemp production. We will advocate for reasonable federal guidelines and development of the overall market. Thank you for your continued support of the hemp industry in North Carolina.

For new applicants, the Industrial Hemp Commission will resume meeting to approve qualifying individuals for licenses to cultivate industrial hemp.”

Regards,

Paul R. Adams III
Industrial Hemp Program Manager
NCDA&CS: Plant Industries
Email: paul.adams@ncagr.gov
Work Cell: 910-604-1276
Office: 919-707-3735