Michigan (Finally) Launching Industrial Hemp Program

Industrial hemp in Michigan

Michigan’s Governor and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) have launched the state’s Industrial Hemp Ag Pilot Program for the 2019 planting season.

The call has gone out to farmers, processors and institutions of higher learning to get involved.

 “This emerging crop not only cultivates new opportunity for our farming community, but it also creates an avenue for new businesses to crop up across the state,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

It’s been a long road to this point. Back in 2015 then-Governor Snyder signed HB 5440 into law, which revised the definition of “marihuana” to exclude industrial hemp grown or cultivated for research. On the same day, HB 5439 was signed off, authorising industrial hemp research.

In late December last year, several bills were signed into law by Governor Snyder that amended the Industrial Hemp Research Act, creating the new Industrial Hemp Research and Development Act.

Michigan’s program will be rather restrictive. While the 2018 federal Farm Bill authorizes commercial production and processing of the crop, the USDA is yet to put guidelines in place and each state will need to submit a plan before proceeding. Therefore, Michigan’s program for this year will operate under provisions in the 2014 Farm Bill. 

“Michigan’s pilot program allows our farmers to explore the production and processing for hemp to determine whether or not this is a financially viable crop for them,” said MDARD Director Gary McDowell.

Applications will be accepted from April 23. All parties participating in the Industrial Hemp Ag-Pilot program will be required to enter into a research agreement with MDARD and will be considered by the Department as conducting research on behalf of MDARD, in line with 2014 Farm Bill provisions.

MDARD will be holding a series of on-site licensing events in the coming week, at which attendees ticking all the boxes will be provided with a temporary Hemp Grower Registration or Hemp Processor-Handler License.

Even prior to the application forms being available online there was plenty of interest registered, with hundreds providing their email addresses to receive updates on the program.

Further information on the initiative can be found here.