Georgia hemp plan wins USDA approval even as budget talks continue

Georgia has federal approval to oversee hemp production in 2020 and is planning to start taking applications later this month.

But the state has yet to settle how it plans to pay for its hemp program.

Georgia’s hemp plan cleared the U.S. Department of Agriculture last week, an approval states need in order to have authority over hemp production beyond October.

The plan says that Georgia “will have the resources and personnel” to carry out a licensing and regulatory plan that includes:

  • annual licensing fees of $50 an acre, up to a maximum of $5,000
  • sampling and testing procedures to be posted later
  • a 10-year ban on drug felons
  • the possibility of “annual compliance inspections” from state regulators

The approval comes even as Georgia lawmakers have yet to settle how much they can afford to spend overseeing hemp production. Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black has asked for  $1.6 million – $800,000 per year over the next two years – to pay for hemp regulation.

Georgia is set to start taking hemp farming applications on March 23, just two days after the state House is scheduled to vote on a budget plan for 2021, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. The final budget won’t be set until later.