Goehring approves proposals for industrial hemp pilot program

An industrial hemp plant

BISMARCK – North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring has announced that 35 proposals submitted for the industrial hemp pilot program have been approved. Those producers will plant a total of 3,064 acres in 17 counties.

The 2017 growing season marks a substantial increase from the 70 acres of industrial hemp planted in North Dakota in 2016.

“Industrial hemp may only be grown in North Dakota through the North Dakota Department of Agriculture's pilot program or by institutions of higher education,” Goehring said. “The program's primary goal is to increase our knowledge of how industrial hemp fits into the existing agriculture landscape and economy. The producers will also be researching various field practices.”

The approved producers will focus research on the following areas:

  • Seed conditioning
  • Variety trials
  • Planting date trials
  • Grain and fiber production
  • Grain and fiber processing (including oil extraction, roasting and germination testing post processing)
  • Soil compaction and improvement
  • Organic growth
  • Utilizing fiber for animal bedding
  • Pollinators
  • Marketing

A provision in the 2014 farm bill gives authority to state departments of agriculture to cultivate industrial hemp for research purposes. Proposals were ranked by a committee and ultimately approved by the agriculture commissioner.

This is the second year individuals will be able to grow industrial hemp in North Dakota. North Dakota State University's Langdon Research Extension Center has also been planting hemp in research plots since 2015.

Industrial hemp can be used for oil, fiber, textiles, recycling, automotive, furniture, food, paper, construction materials and personal care.

UPDATE: On Thursday, March 30, Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring approved two more industrial hemp producers after receiving additional information and clarification of their proposals. The approval increases the total of approved industrial hemp acres to 3,124 in 18 counties. For more information, please contact the Department of Agriculture.