Twelve growers have received hemp licenses in South Dakota as the crop returns to the Great Plains state this year, according to the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources (DANR). An additional three licenses for hemp processing have been granted to date, the state agency said.
The farming licenses awarded so far cover about 300 acres. The DANR said additional licenses are expected to be approved over the next month as farmers see potential for hemp seed (grain) production.
South Dakota’s hemp program was established last year after after traveling a difficult path. An attempt to set up a program in 2019 fell victim to a veto by Republican Governor Kristi Noem. While the governor continued pushback when a subsequent measure surfaced last year in the state legislature, she eventually signed a hemp bill into law.
South Dakota’s program received U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) clearance late last year. The DANR said it continues to put final touches on the state hemp plan to stay compliant under the final USDA hemp rule published this past March.
Meanwhile, services to support the industry are starting to be developed. DANR officials said they are advising farmers and processors, and are developing protocols for THC testing. A first testing lab in the state was approved by the USDA earlier this year. Also, a law proposed earlier this year would give cannabis businesses a path to banking services.
South Dakota voters in November approved initiatives for legalization of both medical and recreational marijuana. The medical marijuana law takes effect July 1, 2021. Recreational marijuana legalization has been held up on procedural grounds, and is currently under investigation by the South Dakota Supreme Court.