Missouri’s new commercially regulated hemp program is moving forward, with sample applications available here.
Official applications will be available Dec. 16 and the Missouri Department of Agriculture will begin taking applications Jan. 2. Interested producers must complete a written application, create parcel maps and complete a fingerprint criminal history background check within 30 days of submitting their application. It costs $750 to apply and that fee helps fund the state’s program.
Department spokesperson Sami Jo Freeman says Missouri will be operating under an extension of the 2014 Farm Bill rules, allowing farmers to get seed in the ground in 2020 with no restrictions to acreage or number of permits. Once approved, a producer can grow industrial hemp in Missouri for three years. Freeman recommends that producers stay flexible under state protection as the federal government decides its final requirements and makes further changes. Interested and approved growers can give input to the USDA about the regulation process. The full federal rule text is available from USDA’s website here and is open for public comment Nov. 1 – Dec. 30, 2019.
She says the 2020 crop will yield important information for the Missouri Department of Agriculture.
“We’re going to be able to determine producers’ interests, we’re going to be able to collect data. It’s going to allow producers the opportunity to figure out how hemp grows best in Missouri because it’s been 70 years since we’ve had a successful hemp crop,” Freeman told Missourinet.
She also urges growers to find the processors and establish their costumers before they plant. Markets are opening nationwide from textile-replacing fibers to CBD oil. For example, Levi’s is aggressively exploring hemp as a substitute or supplement to cotton.
“As a regulated crop, it is different than corn and soybeans,” Freeman says, “and we have to phase it back in. Whenever you see new opportunities like this our producers in rural Missouri are going to take advantage of that and whenever our rural communities thrive, our urban communities thrive as well.”
Kyle Hill, KWIX, contributed to this report.