MFB hemp task force meets to discuss policy, issues

Farm News Media

November 26, 2019

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FRANKENMUTH — A new hemp task force met Nov. 22 at the Saginaw Valley Research and Extension Center to discuss policy and issues surrounding the commodity. Among them — a proposed resolution on Michigan hemp production.

Dubbed the Michigan Farm Bureau Hemp Task Force, the seven-member group reviewed industry concerns, such as Food and Drug Administration guidance on Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, and hemp updates from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD).

Members of the task force include Tim Beebe of Ogemaw County, Clint Hagen of Huron County, Ethan Heck of Monroe County, Michael Klumpp of Isabella County, Tommie Piepkow of Calhoun County, Dave Rupprecht of Tuscola County, and Nate Wittkamp of Muskegon County.

They will meet as needed.

“There are still a lot of questions that need to be answered about industrial hemp,” said Theresa Sisung, associate field crops specialist for the Michigan Farm Bureau. “It is not just growers but also state officials who are looking for answers. We all need to work together to create an industrial hemp program that provides a safe and reliable product while being workable for growers and processors.”

MDARD’s Gina Alessandri told the task force it won’t be submitting a state plan until receiving more clarity on what changes might be made at the federal level to its interim rule. To date, Alessandri said MDARD’s registered 580 grower and 457 processor licenses, covering 15,000 acres and 850 outdoor locations.

Alessandri, who was appointed MDARD’s industrial hemp program director in June, said 801 samples were submitted to MDARD. Of this, 85.6% complied with current state rules.

According to Sisung, Michigan processors are needed for industrial hemp amid industry growth.

“MDARD is cautious to make significant changes to the state law because they don’t know how much the interim rules will change after public comment,” she said, noting public comment ends December 30, 2019. “USDA rules are just for growers; what we do for processors is what we decide to do as a state.”

Other statewide hemp issues, Sisung said, include quality standards, labeling requirements and definition of the effective disposal of the commodity.

Once a state plan is approved by the USDA, states will be required to report to the federal agency within 30 days of registration applications.

The task force drafted policy language to address some of the grower and processor concerns, including marketing, transportation and the legal THC limit.

Current THC levels cannot surpass 0.3%.