Alaska regulators use social media to introduce new rules in the age of coronavirus

Agriculture officials in Alaska are trying to limit in-person trips to the Division of Agriculture, so they used a social media broadcast to lay out new rules for the state’s hemp program this week.

Alaska’s Industrial Hemp Pilot Program, which will operate under the 2014 Farm Bill pilot program rules through Oct. 31, becomes effective April 4.

The Division of Agriculture used Facebook Live Tuesday to provide an overview of the industrial hemp program, including how farmers, processors and marketers can be registered and get started in the industrial hemp business, and allow a dialogue between regulators and participants.

Anyone involved with hemp must be registered to legally produce, process and and/or market hemp and hemp-derived products, according to the Alaska Division of Agriculture.

The new regulations break the industry into three components: growers, manufacturers and retailers, according to Rob Carter, the state agronomist and manager of Alaska’s Northern Latitude Plant Materials Center.

“This will allow our industry to vertically integrate for efficiencies,” Carter said in a statement.

Alaska is among the 20 states operating under the 2014 pilot rules for 2020.

In 2019, Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy cut $375,000 from the state budget for Alaska’s industrial hemp program, saying there is “no existing industry to support a state-funded program.”