West Virginia submits hemp plan to U.S. Dept. of Agriculture

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West Virginia submits hemp plan to U.S. Dept. of Agriculture
A field of hemp in West Virginia greets the dawn. (Photo: Matteo Paganelli)

The West Virginia Department of Agriculture has submitted the state’s plan to regulate industrial hemp to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and officials are working toward the most business-friendly outcome possible.

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Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt said his office will continue to work with producers, who in 2019 produced a remarkably successful crop.

“There is a lot of discussion surrounding the rules proposed by the USDA. Many states have concerns, including West Virginia,” 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.”

According to the terms of the 2018 Farm Bill and USDA interim rules, state governments that wish to maintain oversight of industrial hemp production must submit a plan before October 31, 2020.

The USDA will review the plan before approving West Virginia’s regulatory framework for the 2021 growing season, Leonhardt said.

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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 a 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.”

For the proposed West Virginia State Plan .


Pick-your-own pumpkin farms are growing increasingly popular across West Virginia. (Photo: Anita Austvika)

With the exception of corn, perhaps no vegetable is as all-American as the pumpkin. Carved as a Jack-O'-Lantern or pureed into a Thanksgiving pastry, the pumpkin—and pumpkin pie—are as American as, well, apple pie. They're especially important in West Virginia where they sustained families isolated in the mountains through the winter, and state agriculture officials are now promoting them as a high-yield crop.

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