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Serving: MO
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GET READY: Hemp fields will likely be in the ground in 2020. The Missouri Department of Agriculture is allowing growers to fill out the application and start background checks as early as next week.

Industrial hemp applications open Dec. 16

The Missouri Department of Agriculture will not start reviewing applications until Jan. 2.

Individuals wanting to grow industrial hemp can begin the application process Dec. 16. However, the Missouri Department of Agriculture will not start officially receiving or reviewing applications until Jan. 2, 2020.

Interested producers will complete a written application, create parcel maps and complete a fingerprint criminal history background check within 30 days of submitting their application.

According to Missouri Department of Agriculture communications director Sami Jo Freeman, potential growers are eager to get the process started for the 2020 hemp growing season. So, just last week, the state ag department offered an example of the application on its website.

The advance look allows growers to view the type of information that is required for the permit. A fillable application will go live Dec. 16. However, one key part growers have been asking for is the Originating Agency Identification (ORI) number required to complete the background check. It too will go live on the department’s website next week.

Kickstart the process

Growers at a recent Industrial Hemp Informational Meeting at the University of Missouri Forage Systems Research Center in Linneus expressed concerns over the amount of time for completing the background check, application and planting. The department heard these concerns and others and decided to expedite the process by offering the ORI code prior to receiving the applications.

The ORI is a four-digit code required for the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Missouri Automated Criminal History System (MACHS) online account set up. According to the ag department website, once a MACHS account is created with that ORI code, each person will be assigned a Transaction Control Number (TCN). This is a unique identification number that must be included on the official application form.

After receiving a TCN, a person can set up a fingerprinting appointment at a local office or arrange for remote fingerprinting if necessary. Fingerprinting may not occur until a person has a TCN.

No approval plan

Missouri will also not submit a state plan to the USDA for the 2020 growing season. In October, USDA published an Interim Final Rule that provided a framework for industrial hemp growth in the U.S. In it, USDA provided states the opportunity to work without an approval plan for one year as an extension.

“Industrial Hemp has been a moving target for many regulatory agencies this year,” explains Chris Chinn, director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture. “After working with producers, closely analyzing the federal requirements passed down by Congress and USDA, and incorporating our own state law, we determined that Missouri should spend the 2020 growing season learning more about what works in our state. We are confident this is the best choice for our producers in Missouri.”

Yearlong opportunity

The hemp permit is a rolling application process, Freeman explains. Farmers can enroll anytime throughout the year. There is no cutoff date.

There are also no set number of permits offered, she adds. It is unlimited as long as individuals meet the criteria.

For more on the application process, log on to the state’s Industrial Hemp Program site. If you’re looking for general information on the process and growing hemp, read what the state’s hemp administrator says about what to know before you grow.

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