WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s hemp production program, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig announced earlier this month.

It is not legal to grow, possess, buy or sell hemp in Iowa until a license is granted from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and an official notice is published in the Iowa Administrative Bulletin. The notice is scheduled to occur on April 8.

Farmers can start applying for a hemp license on April 1 and instructions on how are available at iowaagriculture.gov/hemp.

All individuals associated with the hemp production operation must be listed on the hemp license application and must submit their fingerprints for a background check. Interested growers can request a fingerprint card at 515-725-1470 or hemp@iowaagriculture.gov. A license cannot be issued until all applicants associated with the hemp license pass the background check.

Before selling, distributing, advertising, soliciting orders, offering, or exposing hemp seed for sale in Iowa, a retailer must obtain a seed permit from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. Seed dealers can apply for a seed permit now. Information on hemp seed testing and labeling requirements are available at iowaagriculture.gov/hemp.

A public hearing on April 3 from 9-10 a.m. to gather comments on the state's plan will now be hosted via teleconference. Interested parties can participate by calling 866-685-1580 and entering code 0009990941.