The Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho says it is proceeding with final rules on hemp growing after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved the tribe’s hemp program under 2018 Farm Bill provisions. The rules will provide a regulatory framework for safe and legal production of industrial hemp within tribal jurisdiction, according to the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee.
“We are working hard to diversify and expand the economy in this region. Regulatory efforts like this hemp code and our recently adopted water code are important foundational steps in this effort,” said Shannon F. Wheeler, Chairman of the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee.
Approval of the tribe’s draft code, which was submitted to the USDA on Dec. 16, 2020, was announced last week. Regulation of hemp production under the code covers such things as licensing requirements for growers, inspection and sampling, pre- and post-harvest testing, regulations on use of pesticides, and requirements related to labs and testing.
“Because there is tremendous growth in sectors of the economy that rely on hemp, the tribe believes hemp is an emerging market that can accomplish economic self-sufficiency and increase jobs in our region,” said Arthur Broncheau of the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee.
Wheeler said although the tribe still has a lot of work to do before it begins licensing, “We are excited for what the future holds in this area and to bring back an element of our culture that’s been missing for some time.”
Nez Perce tribal lands are in the state of Idaho, but the tribe operates as an independent jurisdiction under its own hemp rules. In addition to governing the tribal reservation, the Nez Perce own and operate casinos, health clinics, salmon fisheries and a radio station. They are one of five federally recognized tribes in the state of Idaho, with roots stretching back nearly 12 centuries in the Columbia River Plateau of the Pacific Northwest.
A measure establishing hemp rules separately for the state of Idaho was signed by Gov. Brad Little late last week. Idaho was the last of the 50 U.S. states to set up a commercial hemp program. More than 40 native American tribes have established hemp programs on tribal lands across the USA.