Michigan’s Pilot Stage of Industrial Hemp Production in Progress

The U.S. state of Michigan is taking the first step to nationwide industrial production of hemp. The Industrial Hemp Ag Pilot Program was officially launched by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development or MDARD for short as the 2019 planting season enters this year. The program gives “farmers, processors, and institutions of higher education” an opportunity to produce and sell hemp in Michigan.

Being the First in Line before 2020

Michigan’s pilot program of industrial hemp production stems from the 2018 Federal Farm Bill which grants the legal production and management of hemp in the country. A Department of Agriculture spokesperson expounds on this bill, “The 2018 Farm Bill signed the president on Dec. 20, 2018, contains provisions that allow USDA to approve plans submitted by the U.S. states, territories and Indian tribes for the commercial production of hemp,” “It would also establish a program for states or tribal governments that do not have a USDA approved plan. USDA is in the beginning stages of implementation of the provisions related to hemp, and we are not in a position to provide further details at the moment.”

Since the 2018 Farm Bill remains at the processing stage before its implementation in all U.S. states, the state of Michigan plans to stay ahead of the game. The outline or basis for Michigan’s pilot program comes from the 2014 Farm Bill wherein the MDARD or higher educational institutions are given a chance to cultivate hemp for analysis and research. The 2018 Farm Bill is expected to make provisions in all states by 2020.

 According to MDARD director Gary McDowell, Michigan’s pilot programs “allows our farmers to explore the production and processing for hemp to determine whether or not this is a financially viable crop for them,” and also added that it helps “pave the way for Michigan growers as we move toward a permanent licensing program next year to identify and expand value-added hemp processing and new market prospects.”

Michigan Attracts Business Prospects

Director of e-commerce of Jenison-based MHR Brands Brady Madden shared his thoughts on the pilot program of Michigan, “There is research that seems very promising right now. We’re excited to see double-blind studies. We’re excited to see research that specifically speaks to different ailments with hemp and CBD and how they are particularly able to help those ailments. We’re excited to have more standardized information like ‘If I want to be calm, I should take X number of milligrams of CBD.’ Having that information readily available, I think, is going to be really beneficial for everybody. So we are just excited to see more research continue to happen and more research continue to come out on this particular crop.”

Madden’s business involves the marketing of hemp-based products including chocolate, candy, supplements, and skin care. He intends to partner with farmers from Michigan and incorporate their hemp produces with business’s products. “This is an entirely new crop, and there are hundreds, if not, thousands of uses for hemp.”

He explains, “Hemp can also have an economic impact on the nutritional side of things, meaning we’ll be able to get people higher quality nutritional products with hemp ingredients in there that can help people with their health, which is going to be a huge market. I think it will impact our manufacturing industry. They’ll be able to manufacture other items that can be sold in other industries such as the auto industry and boating industry. The possibilities are endless, and I think it will have a very large impact on Michigan’s economy.”

Farmers, processors, and educational institutions who intend to participate in the pilot stage of industrial hemp production in Michigan are required to secure a research agreement from MDRAD and apply for registration as a grower. An additional requirement for participation in the program may include a processor-handler license.

The Future of the 2018 Farm Bill on Hemp Producers and Distributors

The 2018 Farm Bill will be in full effect during the 2020 growing season. In response to the nationwide implementation of the new bill, USDA should make sure that states present the following requirements: (1) Federal policies and regulations concerning the productions of hemp, (2) legal documents of hemp factories, (3) processing of delt-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, for hemp production, (4) hemp licensing, (4) violations and penalties.

Industrial hemp was roughly estimated to generate 10.6 billion dollars across the globe by 2025, as stated by Grand View Research.