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New Rules for Tennessee’s Hemp Program

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) 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 here. 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.

TDA 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.

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 here.

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is announcing rule changes for the state’s hemp program to better serve hemp producers.

Tennessee Hemp Growers Get Another Year to Transition to Federal Program

NASHVILLE – Hemp growers in Tennessee will have more time to adjust to federal Domestic Hemp Program guidelines. The program was scheduled to take effect this year, but the United States Congress extended the current industrial hemp pilot program authorized under the 2014 Farm Bill through September 30, 2021.

Tennessee will continue to operate its hemp licensing and inspection programs under the 2014 Farm Bill.

“This extension will give hemp growers more time to transition to new program guidelines and to better understand federal expectations,” Commissioner Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M. said. “Tennessee was on the forefront in providing a framework for producers to grow hemp and we see hemp as an emerging opportunity for growers and processors. We will continue to support this expanding industry and are committed to contributing to its success.”

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s (TDA) 2021 hemp plan was approved by the USDA earlier this year, positioning the department to implement new federal standards. The delay allows TDA to fine-tune laboratory operations, inspection procedures, and sampling processes before transitioning to the federal program next year.

When the new federal standards go into effect next year, every hemp variety in every growing area must be tested for THC within 15 days of harvest rather than 30 days. Samples collected will be tested for total THC rather than delta-9 THC. Growers will be required to receive lot numbers from the USDA Farm Services Agency under the new program.

Hemp growers in Tennessee will have more time to adjust to federal Domestic Hemp Program guidelines. The program was scheduled to take effect this year, but the United States Congress extended the current industrial hemp pilot program authorized under the 2014 Farm Bill through September 30, 2021.