Hemp growers in Tennessee will have more time to adjust to federal Domestic Hemp Program guidelines.
The program was scheduled to take effect this year, but the United States Congress extended the current industrial hemp pilot program authorized under the 2014 Farm Bill through Sept. 30, 2021.
Tennessee will continue to operate its hemp licensing and inspection programs under the 2014 Farm Bill.
“This extension will give hemp growers more time to transition to new program guidelines and to better understand federal expectations,” Tennessee Department of Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M., said. “Tennessee was on the forefront in providing a framework for producers to grow hemp and we see hemp as an emerging opportunity for growers and processors. We will continue to support this expanding industry and are committed to contributing to its success.”
The Department of Agriculture’s 2021 hemp plan was approved by the USDA earlier this year, positioning the department to implement new federal standards. The delay allows TDA to fine-tune laboratory operations, inspection procedures, and sampling processes before transitioning to the federal program next year.
When the new federal standards go into effect next year, every hemp variety in every growing area must be tested for THC within 15 days of harvest rather than 30 days. Samples collected will be tested for total THC rather than delta-9 THC. Growers will be required to receive lot numbers from the USDA Farm Services Agency under the new program.
Tennessee has 1,800 hemp growers licensed to plant as much as 16,000 acres of hemp, with many of those in Williamson County.
TDA accepts applications to grow hemp year-round, with permits expiring June 30 of every year. For more information about hemp in Tennessee, visit www.tn.gov/agriculture/farms/hemp-industry.html.