With one stroke of a pen, Missouri Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe signed into law Senate Bill 133, which allows farmers to plant hemp in the state in 2020. The law also gives state universities a head start by planting hemp for research purposes this year.
Kehoe signed the measure into law June 28 while Gov. Mike Parson was traveling outside the country. Parson was absent from the state June 23 to July 2 on vacation and transferred powers to Kehoe. Parson gave Kehoe consent to move on certain action items such as Senate Bill 133.
Missouri Ruralist asked Sami Jo Freeman, Missouri Department of Agriculture communications director, about production rules in the state. Here are a few answers to help growers plan for next year’s first hemp growing season:
Who can grow hemp? Anyone can grow hemp. However, people must apply and meet a set of criteria, which includes being a Missouri resident and passing an FBI fingerprint background check. People who want to grow must not have been found guilty or pled guilty to a state or federal felony offense for possession, distribution, manufacturing, cultivation or use of a controlled substance within 10 years of applying.
Also, hemp cannot be grown inside a residence. There will be an application process made available on the Missouri Department of Agriculture’s website to interested producers in the fall.
What type of hemp production is allowed in the state? Registered producers will be able to grow hemp for fiber, seed and oil.
When can a farmer plant hemp? Our goal is to begin producer registrations later this year and allow for a 2020 growing season. The industrial hemp conversation has been a moving target for many agencies tasked with creating rules and regulations to allow for the growth of hemp.
The Missouri Department of Agriculture will be revising the pilot program rules that are in place now to ensure they are consistent with SB133. The department will file new rules as soon as the new law takes effect Aug. 28. We also anticipate final guidance from USDA related to federal industrial hemp provisions of the 2018 Farm Bill this fall.
Farmers must be registered with the Missouri Department of Agriculture prior to planting or owning industrial hemp seeds.
How many acres can a farmer plant? The new law removes the acreage restrictions, both minimum and maximum, put in place by the 2018 Industrial Hemp Pilot Program.
Are universities growing hemp for research this year? There is an emergency clause to allow for immediate hemp production by researchers at one of our Missouri universities. These institutions can study the growth, cultivation or marketing of hemp and hemp products. Institutions of higher education are not required to register to produce industrial hemp. Each institution of higher education wishing to conduct research will need to seek advisement from its legal counsel on how to best develop its research programs.
Who can farmers call for hemp questions? The Missouri Department of Agriculture hired a program administrator focused on hemp production. It is also looking to add staff over the next few months. Producers with additional questions can visit agriculture.mo.gov or email firstname.lastname@example.org.