Despite submitting plan to USDA, Georgia budget crunch could stifle hemp goals

Georgia has authorized hemp farming and submitted its 2020 production plan to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

But to run a program, the state will first need funding.

Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black is asking state lawmakers for $1.6 million – $800,000 per year over the next two years – to create a state hemp program, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Black told the newspaper the USDA could approve the state’s plan any day, but federal law requires that the Georgia Department of Agriculture prove it has the necessary resources, which it currently doesn’t.

The agriculture commissioner’s request for funding comes during a budget crunch for the state, and no money was set aside for hemp farming in 2019 when lawmakers voted to approve production in the state.

Under the 2018 Farm Bill and the recently released interim final rule for hemp production, Georgia hemp farmers could still produce the plant if the state decides it doesn’t have the money to host its own program, but they would need to apply individually to the USDA for licenses.

More details about the issue are available here.