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How to Get a Hemp Growing License

Overview

Are you wondering how to get a hemp growing license? With the growing interest in the hemp industry and the increasing recognition of its potential benefits, obtaining a hemp growing license has become an essential step for individuals and businesses looking to venture into hemp cultivation. 

The 2018 Farm Bill made the regulated cultivation and processing of industrial hemp with less than 0.3% THC legal in the United States. Hemp cultivation is subject to specific regulations to ensure compliance with this THC threshold. Businesses are required to obtain the necessary license before they can legally do so.

License applications to grow hemp are available for businesses and farmers wanting to enter the industry. There are three different ways to get a hemp license and each will be discussed in this article, including the process of submitting application, costs and requirements.

The Opportunity Size

The global industrial hemp market was valued at USD 4.74 billion in 2022 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 17.1% from 2023 to 2030. This growth is driven by demand from industries like food, personal care, and animal care. The U.S. government’s investment, low THC hemp varieties, and emerging market players are boosting the industry, while awareness of hemp’s nutritional benefits and its versatile applications in textiles, paper, and construction contribute to its growth.

What is a hemp growing license? 

A hemp growing license is an official authorization granted by a governmental or regulatory authority that allows an individual, entity, or organization to legally cultivate hemp plants for industrial or research purposes.

Aside from hemp growing licenses, there are also other types of licenses. To help you differentiate, the other types are:

Processor License: If you plan to process hemp into products like CBD oil or textiles, you may need a processor license.

Research License: Universities and institutions conducting research on hemp may require this license to legally cultivate and study the plant.

Retail License: Some states require retailers selling hemp products to obtain a separate license.

How do I get a license to grow hemp?

To obtain a license to grow hemp, the first step involves determining the program your license will fall into. This is to be determined by the location of your facility. Three options are available, which is through the state, tribal or USDA hemp program.

If your local state department of agriculture or tribal government has a production plan approved by the USDA or is under the process of developing one, then your license should be under their hemp program. If not, you should apply under the USDA hemp program.

State Hemp Programs

Application process may differ per state. A list of state hemp program websites is provided here where you can check the application process and requirements. To give you an idea of how to get a hemp license, here are some instructions from some states:

TEXAS

To apply for a hemp license, the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) requires you to watch their orientation video and for you to have one facility location. After that, you can head on to the TDA website and apply online for a producer license. The license will be delivered via email to the contact person.

TENNESSEE

Applications for a hemp producer license are open any time. Tennessee requires an application, license fee and aerial map to be submitted. Applications can be submitted to industrial.hemp@tn.gov or mailed to the address provided here. Complete application process can also be read here.

PENNSYLVANIA

Applications for a grower license for the year 2023 are open from October 2023 to April 1, 2024. For guidelines, you can read it here. To apply for a license, you should complete the Hemp Permit Application & Renewal Form. Application Instructions guide is also provided for you to use as a reference. 

GEORGIA

A step by step guide is provided for you to read before you start applying. After that, you can go to GDA Hemp Licensing and Reporting System to complete applications.

NEW YORK

To apply in New York, submit your application, a $500 fee, FBI history check, and aerial maps. After the Department of Agriculture and Markets reviews your application, you will be informed of the result. If approved, the license will be sent via mail. 

Tribal Hemp Programs

Contact your tribal government to check if a USDA approved production plan already exists or is underway. You can use the email address listed here to contact.  

USDA Hemp Program

Throughout the year, applications for USDA hemp production licenses are accepted on an ongoing basis. Currently, the USDA is only accepting applications from producers located in the following states: Hawaii, New Hampshire, Mississippi, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Utah, Missouri, and Vermont. 

Applications are also being accepted from the following tribes: Fort Peck Assiniboine & Sioux Tribes, Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation, White Earth Band of the Minnesota Chippewa, Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, Bois Forte Band of Chippewa, and Walker River Paiute Tribe.

To submit an application for a USDA hemp license, create an account using the Hemp eManagement Platform (HeMP). Along with your application, submit also a copy of your FBI Identity History Check.

Steps to Obtain a Hemp Growing License

Understand Regulations: Familiarize yourself with hemp laws and regulations in your region to ensure compliance.

Research Authorities: Identify the relevant governmental agency responsible for issuing hemp licenses.

Meet Eligibility: Ensure you meet all eligibility criteria, such as age, residency, and criminal background.

Prepare Documentation: Gather required documents, including identification, proof of residency, and financial statements.

Develop a Plan: Create a detailed cultivation plan covering site description, methods, varieties, pest management, and more.

Submit Application: Complete the application form, attach documents, and pay applicable fees.

Approval and Inspections: Await the authority’s review, potentially involving site inspections.

Compliance: Upon approval, adhere to regulations, reporting, and testing requirements.

Can anyone grow hemp?

Growing hemp is not a right and is not open to everyone. The assigned departments have complete discretion in granting this authorization. Factors that could disqualify you include being under 18, having an incomplete or wrong application, having drug-related felonies from key participants within the last 10 years, or planning to use a location already registered for another authorization.

How much is a hemp license?

A hemp grower’s license fee may differ per location. You may need to pay for an application, license and inspection fees. Depending on the location, application fees may range from $0 to $1,350. 

To find out how much a license costs in your area, consult your local or regional government authority responsible for overseeing the hemp production. 

Final Thoughts

Obtaining a hemp growing license is necessary for those looking to join the hemp industry. While the process may vary depending on your area, understanding the regulations, guidelines, and requirements set forth by your local government or licensing authority is essential. 

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