PIERRE— South Dakota's industrial hemp plan has received final approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“I am excited the SDDA has an approved plan and am looking forward to working with industrial hemp producers and processors in South Dakota,” Derek Schiefelbein, SDDA Industrial Hemp Program Manager, said in a statement. “The SDDA has been working diligently to create a reliable, responsible, safe, and efficient program that will be in place prior to the 2021 growing season.”

The legalization of hemp production in South Dakota came after Gov. Kristi Noem signed legislation approving the state’s plan, which had to meet certain guidelines to avoid a veto. Noem vetoed a hemp bill during the 2019 legislative session.

Currently, the SDDA is taking actions to promulgate emergency administrative rules to establish the program in accordance with state law and the USDA approved plan, the South Dakota Department of Agriculture said.

Applicants for processor licenses and grower licenses will be able to apply as soon as those rules become effective. The state Department of Agriculture's website will be updated with the USDA approved plan and the most recent information as it becomes available.

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Lawmakers in support of the bill frequently warned that a hemp crop is not something producers should attempt to grow without extensive research and vetting of hemp seed dealers.

Hemp operations would need to be outdoors on at least five continuous acres. No indoor growing is allowed at this point.

All plants need to have a THC content of 0.03% or less. If tests determine that the plants exceed this level, they can be retested. If the second test shows the hemp plant still has a content over the allowed THC amounts, the crop must be destroyed.

Schiefelbein previously served as state surveyor before taking the industrial hemp program role.