The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved New York’s hemp plan and the agency is now accepting applications under the new regime. All currently licensed growers must reapply under the program to grow hemp next year.

The new rules include a Federal Bureau of Investigation background check requirement within 60 days of application submission; end-product and field reporting; inspections by the state Department of Agriculture; pre-harvest plant and post-harvest laboratory testing; and penalties for cultivating THC-rich products, including license suspension or revocation.

Producers must also send reports to the USDA and the Farm Service Agency (FSA).

In a press release, state Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said hemp cultivators “will have stability and consistency in regulations moving forward, with continued guidance and support from the department.”

“New York State has been a leader in the hemp industry since the launch of its pilot program, with producers registered to grow industrial hemp on 30,000 acres.” Ball in a statement

Last year, the New York Agriculture Department said the state would not submit a hemp plan to the USDA until it changed certain program requirements forcing growers to apply to the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service to receive a hemp production license.

Ball had described federal hemp testing and plant disposal regulations outlined in the 2018 federal Farm Bill as “unrealistic” and said they “impose unreasonable burdens on growers and any state interested in administering a compliant program.” Prior to the 2018 reforms, individual states operated their own hemp programs free from federal interference under a plan approved by federal lawmakers in 2014.