USDA approves hemp production plans for Alaska, Arizona and Montana

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Federal agriculture regulators continue to approve hemp production plans for state and tribal programs following the Jan. 1 deadline when pilot programs were due to expire and the final rules under the 2018 Farm Bill were set to take effect.

Most recently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved hemp production programs for Alaska, Arizona and Montana.

All current hemp license holders in these states must apply for new licenses.

According to the Arizona Department of Agriculture, with approval to comes eligibility to USDA crop insurance, loan and conservation programs for hemp producers including:

  • Whole-Farm Revenue Protection.
  • Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP).
  • NRCS-administered conservation programs, including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Conservation Stewardship Program, Regional Conservation Partnership Program, and Agricultural Conservation.
  • Easement Program Farm loans, including operating, ownership, beginning farmer, and farm storage facility.

Arizona’s newly approved hemp production plan allows producers to grow and sell new products such as hemp baby greens commercially, according to Robert Masson, an agriculture extension specialist for the University of Arizona’s Yuma County Extension.

“Baby leaf hemp can be grown in Arizona and shipped nationwide,” Masson told KYMA and KECY Yuma TV stations.

There have already been several trials done in edible hemp greens, he said.

“Moving forward, I think the big win for us will be the leafy green production,” Masson said.

“I think that will go great in a salad blend. I think that consumers will really get behind it. We’ve done some initial nutritionals and it’s very healthy.”

Fiber and grain hemp have been shown to be of higher interest now than CBD, according to Masson.

In Alaska, the state agriculture division director David Schade said hemp holds economic promise for the state, which produced the crop on 70 outdoor acres and in 14,000 square feet of indoor space.

“We have clean water, clean soil, clear air, so we can, in the right regions, grow great plants,” Schade told Alaska Public Media.

Schade said that harvest will likely grow under the new USDA approved plan.

“The goal is diversification of Alaska’s economy with the addition of a new crop for our farmers,” he said in a press release.

“Industrial hemp is one crop where Alaska is not years behind the Lower 48 in development.”

Montana, which has been one of the largest hemp production states since the hemp pilot program began under the 2014 Farm Bill passed, licensed 37 producers who planted 2,540 acres in 2021.

According to the state hemp program, the majority of the planted acres were for grain (1,700 acres), followed by fiber (590 acres) and CBD (250 acres).

About 2,000 acres of hemp were produced on tribal lands in Montana.

Applications for Montana outdoor producers are due to the Montana Department of Agriculture by May 30.

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