In groundbreaking move, USDA ready to protect seed-propagated hemp genetics

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is ready to protect seed-propagated hemp varieties, a landmark move that could generate numerous business opportunities for breeders of the plant.

The USDA announced Wednesday that its Plant Variety Protection Office (PVPO) is taking hemp applications because of the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill.

Intellectual-property protection for hemp genetics comes through the Plant Variety Protection Act, a 1970 law that gives breeders exclusive control over seed- and tuber-propagated varieties.

This is just the kind of protection that was unavailable to hemp entrepreneurs operating under the 2014 Farm Bill or anyone working with a controlled substance, such as marijuana producers.

According to a USDA Agricultural Marketing Service trade notice, the PVPO will examine new applications for protecting hemp varieties. If deemed legitimate, applicants will receive certificates that protect hemp varieties for 20 years.

PVP certificates are internationally recognized and allow for faster certification in other countries, according to the USDA.

Plant variety protection (PVP) certificate owners can protect their genetics from being produced, marketed or sold by others.

Visit the USDA-AMS website to review the requirements and apply for plant variety protection.