USDA Approves Georgia Hemp Plan

Miller & Martin PLLC Alerts | March 19, 2020

On March 10, 2020, the Georgia Department of Agriculture (“GDA”) announced in a newsletter that the United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) has approved Georgia’s Hemp Plan and that GDA will begin accepting applications for Hemp Grower Licenses on March 23, 2020. Below we recap the status of hemp production in Georgia and share highlights from our application checklist to help you navigate Georgia’s Hemp Grower License application process.

RECAP

As a refresher, Georgia joined the hemp industry in May of last year by enacting the Georgia Hemp Farming Act (you can read more about this in our report here). In July, we reported when Georgia released its proposed regulations for hemp growers and processors. On January 8, 2020, after the release of the USDA Interim Rules, GDA submitted its Hemp Plan for approval by the USDA. On January 14, 2020, GDA announced that it was notified by the USDA that Georgia’s Hemp Plan would not be approved by the USDA until the Hemp Plan authorized the necessary appropriations to administer the program. As we recently reported, Under USDA Interim Rules for Hemp Production, a state submitting a plan to the USDA for approval must certify that the state has the resources and personnel necessary to administer the program. During the 2019 Legislative Session when the Georgia Hemp Farming Act was enacted, no appropriations were given to accompany the development and support of the program. The revised March 2020 Georgia Hemp Plan approved by the USDA can be viewed here.

GETTING STARTED

Application Requirements: Georgia’s Hemp License application will require many technical steps and additional documentation that applicants cannot afford to miss. We have prepared a checklist to help our clients in applying for licenses to grow hemp in Georgia. Below are some of the highlights from our checklist:

  1. Fees. The Hemp Growers License fee is $50.00 per cultivated acre up to a maximum application fee of $5,000.00. If you will be growing hemp indoors (i.e. greenhouse or other building or structure), then this calculation will be determined on the building or structure’s square footage on a 43,560 square footage basis. This calculation will not be prorated for fractional acreage or square footage.
  2. Application Information. Applicants must provide standard contact information (i.e. name, address, etc.). If Applicant is a business, the applicant must also provide business entity information (i.e. name, structure, principal address, primary contact information, certification of existence, business licenses, EIN, etc.). In addition, business applicants must provide the names and contact information of all of the business’ key participants and any persons holding a beneficial interest in the Hemp Grower License.
  3. Qualified Agricultural Producer. Applicants must provide information to prove that the applicant is a qualified agricultural producer (i.e. Georgia Agriculture Tax Exemption Certification, IRS Schedule F, etc.)
  4. Geo Location. Applicants must provide information for locating any fields or greenhouses where hemp will be cultivated and harvested under the license.
    1. Field Cultivation: Applicants must provide (i) legal description of land from the county courthouse property records, (ii) GPS coordinates of the center of the grow site, and (iii) an aerial map or photograph showing the boundaries and dimensions of the property.
    2. Greenhouse Cultivation: Applicants must provide (i) legal description of the property from the county courthouse property records, (ii) GPS coordinates of the entrance of the grow site, and (iii) an aerial map or photograph showing the boundaries and dimensions of the property.
  5. Storage Facilities. Applicants must provide information for locating any hemp storage facility (legal description from county courthouse, GPS coordinates, dimensions, and aerial map or photogram of boundaries).
  6. Processor Agreements and Affidavits. Names and contact information of Processor Permittees with whom agreements have been entered and affidavits affirming the same.
  7. Written Consent. Applicants must provide a written consent allowing GDA and other law enforcement to enter all premises where hemp is cultivated, harvested, handled, or stored.
  8. Criminal Background Check. All applications must include criminal background checks for each owner, all key participants, and all persons holding a beneficial interest.
  9. Acknowledgment. The applicant must execute an acknowledgment of the Grower License Terms and Conditions.
  10. Property Deed or Lease. The application must also include a copy of the deed or lease to the grower site, whether a field or a greenhouse, and copies of all relevant easements or licenses for cultivating the hemp at such location.

The above checklist is not exclusive of all the information, documents and steps required for successfully applying for and obtaining a Hemp Grower License in Georgia. We expect more information to be released by GDA prior to the opening of license applications. For a complete checklist and more information about applying to grow hemp in Georgia or for more information about the latest guidance in this emerging hemp industry, contact Miller & Martin attorney Stephanie Savage or any other member of our Cannabis & Hemp practice.

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