Department of Ag Clarifies Hemp LicenseRules approved by JCAR
The IDOA recently altered proposed rules for industrial hemp production and processing, adjusting proposed licensing fees and adding flexibility for crop rotation and changes in cropping plans. (Photo courtesy of Tennessee Hemp Farm LLC)
The Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) altered proposed rules for industrial hemp production and processing and submitted those rules to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR). JCAR legislator members will make the final decision on the rules.
The state legalized industrial hemp production Aug. 25, 2018. IDOA published license regulations for hemp cultivation and processing Dec. 28 and accepted public comments through Feb. 11.
Farm Bureau urged IDOA to ensure the proposed state rules align with new federal requirements in the farm bill. Jeff Cox, head of IDOA’s medicinal plant bureau, told FarmWeek that IDOA made changes and even added language about negligent violations taken from the farm bill.
“The changes better align Illinois regulations with the requirements of the 2018 farm bill,” said Bill Bodine, IFB associate director of state legislation.
During the comment period, application and license fees had raised concerns. A major change was IDOA’s deletion of a 90-day period for a farmer to submit a license application before planting.
“IDOA made changes,” Bodine said. “The end result is a licensing process that looks reasonable for the state of Illinois.”
Cox explained, “We will accept applications on a rolling basis, first come, first served. We don’t have a maximum number [of awarded licenses]. As we receive [applications], we will process them. We have tried to treat this like a commodity as much as possible.”
IDOA also adjusted proposed license fees and added flexibility for crop rotation and changes in cropping plans.
The fee to apply for a license is $100. The license fee for each noncontiguous area or indoor cultivation center is $375 for one year, $700 for two years and $1,000 for three years. IDOA eliminated a $200 alteration fee to provide some flexibility for farmers who may need to move industrial hemp production. However, farmers will need to inform IDOA about the locations of hemp fields, Cox noted. The processing license fee is $1,000 for each address.
“The department has provided flexibility by allowing farmers to choose a one-, two- or three-year license and by eliminating the alteration fee,” Bodine added.
IDOA also considered comments about licensing everyone involved in hemp production, transportation and processing. Cox explained the department’s intention is to address those concerns and to license a farming operation.
Several public comments focused on hemp seed certification. While IDOA kept a requirement that hemp seed must be certified according to the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies standards and guidelines, the department added an alternative of hemp seed accompanied by an analysis certificate from an accredited certified laboratory in a state with a regulated industrial hemp program that certifies the hemp grown will not contain more than 0.3 percent THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).
IDOA has removed a requirement for licensed growers to submit a report 30 days prior to planting. While a licensed grower must still report to IDOA at least 30 days before harvest, the proposed requirement now includes “to the best of the licensee’s ability” and removes a requirement to report what processor will buy the crop.
The Illinois General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules approved the rules for the license application process to grow industrial hemp on April 9, 2019. The Illinois Dept. of Agriculture has stated that they will make the license applications available as soon as possible. However, we do not know an exact date yet.
Members interested in applying for a license should monitor the IDOA’s website for an announcement of the license availability. The website is https://www2.illinois.gov/sites/agr/Pages/default.aspx
More than 50 farmers and ag producers attended the Industrial Hemp Meeting at the Farm Bureau on April 2nd. The program included panel presentations on Hemp Agronomy, Hemp/CBD Markets, Seed, Regulatory, Legislation, and Bi-Product opportunities, as well as Farmer experience with Hemp. Thank you to the panelists who did a terrific job: (left to right photo) Randy Miles, Total Cannabis Solutions (TCS), Jarrett Burke, Jade House Genetics, William Moss, TCS, Zach Grant, U of I Extension Educator, Small Farms,, Philip Alberti, Extension Educator, Commercial Ag, Garrett Thalgott, attorney, IAA Office of General Council.