Official: S.D. industrial-hemp program should be up and running in time for 2021 growing season

Capitol News Bureau
KELO Hemp Crop South Dakota

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Now that South Dakota’s proposed plan for allowing low-THC hemp is under review at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, farmers and processors can get ready for a crop next year.

State officials announced earlier this week they had submitted the plan to USDA. The federal process can take up to 60 days. During that time, USDA staff will look it over, as will the department’s legal office and a department undersecretary.

Assuming the plan receives federal approval, the next step in South Dakota will be the state Department of Agriculture setting rules, such as fees for the various licenses. The public hearing is expected to happen yet this year, according to Taya Runyan, a division director in the state department.

“That still allows us to get those rules promulgated by the end of the year,” Runyan told KELOLAND News on Thursday.

She said that state officials had been informally conferring with USDA staff before sending in the plan. She also confirmed that the state department has been sharing information with members of the South Dakota Industrial Hemp Association.

But Runyan said no one outside the state department and USDA has seen the proposed plan yet. She declined a KELOLAND News request for a copy of it, saying the department didn’t want producers or processors to start moving forward on things such as background checks until the final version is ready for circulation.

Governor Kristi Noem signed the 2020 legislation into law, after vetoing the 2019 bill and repeatedly raising objections during work by the Legislature’s interim committee.

The 2020 law carried an emergency clause that had it take effect immediately after the governor signed it on March 27, rather than on July 1 when most new laws start.

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