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MDA to host Industrial Hemp Forum Feb. 10-11

This will be the first year that the Minnesota Department of Agriculture's Industrial Hemp Program will operate under a new, federally approved state plan that governs production and regulation.

Hemp plants.jpg
Hemp plants at Root River Gardens, a hemp farm in Lanesboro, Minn. Noah Fish / Forum News Service

Anyone interested in hemp production is encouraged to attend the Minnesota Department of Agriculture's 2021 Industrial Hemp Forum.

The virtual event will be held Feb. 10-11 from noon to 4 p.m. each day and is free to attend. Forum topics include federal and state regulations, plant breeding and agronomy and market opportunities.

Industrial hemp and marijuana are both types of the same plant, Cannabis sativa. They differ by the concentration level of the psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabinol within the plant. Hemp has less than 0.3% THC, and levels above that are considered marijuana.

Whitney Place, MDA assistant commissioner, said that the forum is designed for "anyone with interests in hemp production, processing or marketing," whether they are currently involved or seek to get involved with the hemp industry.

“2021 marks an exciting turning point in the history of industrial hemp with Minnesota and tribal nations overseeing federally backed programs, and we want to share as much information as we can about this crop so growers and processors can be successful," Place said.

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This will be the first time Minnesota’s Industrial Hemp Program will operate under a new, federally approved state plan that governs production and regulation. When the 2018 Federal Farm Bill legalized hemp as an agricultural commodity, it also required states and tribal nations to submit plans to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, if governments wanted to oversee their own commercial program.

In July of last year, the USDA approved Minnesota’s plan. Prior to that, Minnesota was operating under a pilot program.

Licensing and acreage of Minnesota's hemp program increased from six licensed growers and 38 acres planted in 2016 to 350 licensed growers and 7,553 acres planted in 2019. Last year, there were 461 licensed hemp growers, 5,808 outdoor acres planted as well as over 1 million square feet planted indoors. The number of licensed processors in the state jumped from five in 2017 to 77 in 2020.

For more information on the 2021 Industrial Hemp Forum and to register, visit www.mda.state.mn.us/hempforum .

Related Topics: AGRICULTURECROPSMINNESOTA
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