IDOA taking license applications for industrial hemp

IFB pleased, has 'supported legalizing industrial hemp production for more than two decades.'

IDOA today announced the agency would begin taking applications for the production of industrial hemp, adding a potentially billion-dollar industry to the state's agriculture businesses. (Photo by Stephen Patton)

Today farmers may apply for a license to grow industrial hemp in Illinois.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker, flanked by Illinois Agriculture Director John Sullivan, announced the launching of new industrial hemp licenses during a Monday morning Statehouse press conference. Bill Bodine, Illinois Farm Bureau associate director of state legislation, joined Pritzker and Sullivan.

“Industrial hemp is potentially a billion-dollar industry that Illinois will now take part in,” Pritzker told reporters. “From farming and processing, to sales and exports, this will have a massive impact on our state’s economy. Farmers across the state can diversify their crops and join a growing industry.”

Video: Gov. J.B. Pritzker, with IDOA Director John Sullivan and IFB Associate Director of State Legislation Bill Bodine, announce the launching of new industrial hemp licenses. 

The Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) made hemp license applications available online by visiting Sullivan explained a farmer may complete an online application, identify the longitude and latitude of the prospective industrial hemp fields and pay the licensure fee. “We will get a permit back to you as soon as we possibly can,” Sullivan said to potential growers.

Sullivan recalled telling Pritzker: “We need to diversify the crops we grow and we need to create job opportunities. I feel confident that hemp has the potential to create jobs in rural parts of the state and in the urban parts as well.”

Following the announcement, IFB President Richard Guebert Jr., said “The Illinois Farm Bureau is pleased that farmers will now be able to apply for a license to grow industrial hemp in Illinois. We appreciate the support of Governor Pritzker and the hard work of Director Sullivan and his staff making the license applications available in time for the 2019 planting season.”

Guebert continued, “Our organization has supported legalizing industrial hemp production for more than two decades. We are excited for the opportunities this crop may provide to the farmers who have an interest in its production.” 

IDOA is accepting hemp licenses on a first come, first served basis. The application fee is $100. The license fee for each noncontiguous area or indoor cultivation center is $375 for one year, $700 for two years and $1,000 for three years.

Bodine told reporters IFB has long supported legalization of industrial hemp production and is “very excited” the new crop can be grown this year.

Hemp “does present a new opportunity for our farmers to diversify their operations and presents an opportunity for economic development in rural Illinois,” Bodine said.

Illinoisans curious to see industrial hemp growing will have opportunities at the Illinois State Fairgrounds and DuQuoin State Fairgrounds, according to the ag director. Hemp plots will be planted on both fairgrounds, Sullivan said.

License applicants must specify their business structure, including sole proprietor, partnership, nonprofit organization or cooperative; select either a grower or processor license and the length of license term up to 3 years. License years will extend from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31. This first year, the license year also ends Dec. 31.   

Grower applicants need to supply GPS coordinates for the field or fields, acreage, variety and/or strain of hemp to be planted, the crop’s intended use as seed, fiber and/or cannabidiol, also known as CBD. 

IDOA will use field coordinates to periodically inspect hemp crops for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels, Sullivan told reporters. By federal and state law, industrial hemp cannot contain more than 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis.

IDOA prefers hemp license applications be completed online. An alternative paper method will be burdensome, according to Morgan Booth, IDOA spokesman. To complete and file a paper license application, an individual will need to make an appointment with IDOA’s Bureau of Medicinal Plants and travel to Springfield to IDOA’s office.