TENNESSEE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Hemp, the non-psychoactive first cousin of marijuana, is taking off in Tennessee.
The Tennessee Department of Agriculture has licensed more than 2,900 hemp growers in 2019. In 2018, TDA approved 226 hemp producer applications.
Federal and state laws require Tennessee hemp growers be licensed through TDA’s hemp program. While the 2018 Farm Bill removes hemp from the list of federally controlled substances, it remains illegal to grow hemp without a license through an approved state program.
Meanwhile, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture is announcing rule changes for the state’s hemp program to better serve hemp producers.
“Farmers have been growing and researching this crop in Tennessee since the program began in 2015 as a pilot program,” Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M. said. “The hemp industry and federal laws have changed in recent years, and we’re updating our program rules to be more consistent with how other crop programs are managed.”
The application period for a license to grow hemp is now open year-round. Grower applications can be found online at www.tn.gov/agriculture/farms/hemp-industry.html. Licenses will expire June 30 of each year, and all grower licenses issued in 2019 will expire June, 2020.
Other program changes include:
· Hemp processors will no longer be required to register through TDA.
· The hemp program will no longer issue licenses for certified seed breeders. However, anyone manufacturing, distributing, or labeling seed should be licensed through TDA’s Ag Inputs section.
· Growers will still need movement permits when transporting rooted plants and are now required to be permitted when moving harvested hemp from their growing site.
According to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, hemp has been used since colonial times to produce cordage, cloth, canvas, sacks and paper. WikiPedia reports that hemp seeds and flowers today are used in health foods, organic body care, and other nutraceuticals. The fibers and stalks are used in hemp clothing, construction materials, paper, biofuel, plastic composites, and more.
The Tennessee General Assembly enacted Public Chapter 916 in 2014, tasking the department with development of a licensing and inspection program for the production of hemp in Tennessee. You will find more information about Tennessee’s hemp program at www.tn.gov/agriculture/farms/hemp-industry.html.