CHARLESTON — The West Virginia Department of Agriculture has submitted the state’s plan to regulate industrial hemp to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

With passage of the 2018 Farm Bill and issuing of USDA interim rules, states that wish to maintain oversight of industrial hemp production must submit a plan before Oct. 31. The USDA will review the plan before approving West Virginia’s regulatory framework for the 2021 growing season.

“There is a lot of discussion surrounding the rules proposed by the USDA. Many states have concerns, including West Virginia,” Agriculture Commissioner Kent Leonhardt said. “For our state’s industry to continue to grow, we have to work with our federal partners to create a business-friendly environment for producers.”

Farmers will continue to operate under the current rules and regulations for the 2020 growing season. After October, states must have rules that mirror federal regulations or have state producers file for permit directly with the USDA. Currently, 22 states and 17 tribal organizations have submitted plans for review.

“Last year, 90 percent of West Virginia farmers had successful crops. I am confident our farmers will continue to prosper regardless of what the final rules or plan looks like,” Leonhardt said. “Our goal is to work with our producers on educational outreach, so they fully understand what is expected of them.” 

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