A new program announced today gives Michigan farmers, processors and institutions of higher learning a chance to grow, cultivate and market Michigan’s newest agricultural crop, industrial hemp.

Today, Gov. Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) announced the State of Michigan’s new Industrial Hemp Ag Pilot Program for the 2019 planting season.

A series of federal bills make the program possible with changes set to come in the future.

The 2018 federal Farm Bill authorizes the commercial production and processing of industrial hemp in the United States. The United States Department of Agriculture will have a new national program in place for the 2020 growing season. To cover the 2019 growing season, MDARD created the Industrial Hemp Ag Pilot Program under the authority awarded in the 2014 Farm Bill.

The 2014 Farm Bill allows an institute of higher learning or MDARD to grow industrial hemp for research purposes as part of an agricultural pilot program. A person participating in the 2019 program will be required to obtain a license and enter into a research agreement with MDARD. The research on behalf of MDARD is what allows the grower to participate under the 2014 Farm Bill.

Forms for a grower registration, a processor-handler license, and participation in the pilot program are available online. Applications will be accepted beginning April 23, 2019. Grower registration costs $100 and a processor-handler license costs $1,350.