South Dakota’s Department of Agriculture announced last week it had submitted its hemp plan to the USDA for review and hopefully, approval.
And what a road it has been for what was one the remaining hemp holdout states to get to this point.
Back in March last year, a bill that would have allowed hemp to be cultivated and processed in the state, House Bill 1191, was vetoed by Governor Kristi Noem. Governor Noem held the view the state wasn’t ready for the crop.
It was really looking like hemp would not be (legally) appearing in South Dakota’s fields again under her watch. The Governor insisted for a hemp bill to get her signature, it would need to allay all her many concerns and satisfy her “four guardrails“.
One year on from the veto, that finally happened after signalling in January she had softened her stance. Governor Noem signed HB 1008 into law in March this year, which legalizes the growth, production, and transportation of industrial hemp in the state; made appropriations for funding and declared an emergency. The last bit sounds rather dramatic, but it just means the Act came into immediate effect.
But this didn’t mean crops went into the ground straight away. The next step was for South Dakota to develop and have a state plan for hemp approved by the United States Department of Agriculture. It could have also chosen to operate under provisions under the 2014 Farm Bill for this year, but the timing wasn’t great and those provisions didn’t suit the Governor.
There was little fanfare about the submission of the plan to the USDA last week – just this brief announcement.
“I am looking forward to working with industrial hemp producers and processors in South Dakota,” said the state’s Industrial Hemp Program Manager Derek Schiefelbein. “The SDDA will continue to develop the program while waiting for approval from the USDA. Processors and growers can look for more information for how to apply in the near future.”
The Department is quietly confident the state’s industrial hemp program will be operational for the 2021 growing season.