What is the Hemp Checkoff Program in Montana?

All About The Hemp Checkoff Program 

Montana, a leader in hemp production in 2019, has established a program for hemp producers to dedicate 1% of their sales towards industry research, market development, and education. The funds are being controlled and overseen by the advisory committee, which is made up of mostly hemp farmers who represent different regions amongst the state of Montana. The members of the advisory committee serve 1 year-long term, and have the ability to express their recommendations on how the money collected should be allocated. 

For those that are unaware, checkoff programs are fairly common within the agricultural communities in the United States. According to Montana’s checkoff programs, farmers that are involved must submit their funds to the department, but they have the ability to receive a refund if they are not pleased with how the money is being allocated. 

The hemp checkoff program launched as the hemp industry continues to debate whether a national or state system is better and if fees should be determined by what the plant is used for. The upcoming harvest season (around fall), the first fees will be collected. 

hemp farmers in a field

How Does This Impact Hemp Farmers?

As mentioned before, the concept of checkoff programs is not new. Most farmers are very familiar with checkoff programs, so adding hemp is not far off. Because the funds for the program will be pulled directly from the farmers, the committee will be made up of contributing members. 

Committee selection will be based on a couple of different factors. The committee will be a representation of the industry in Montana, including a geographical and market perspective. During the application process, growers from all regions across the state were encouraged to apply. 

The future seems bright for the committee. They have put goals in place to draft rules to ensure that growers can contribute to the checkoff fund after the 2020 harvest season is complete.

All of these major steps in the hemp industry of Montana come after exponential growth in the last few years. In 2018, Montana had 22,000 acres of hemp planted and by the following year, the acreage had more than doubled to 51,000 acres in production. Many experts in the field believe that growth in the future will be much more steady, responsible, and slow in order to produce quality crops. 

As Montana leads the way with the hemp checklist program, Colorado and Pennsylvania are close behind. Additionally, national hemp organizations are making a push to pilot the program as well, seeing it as a necessary step in establishing the plant as an agricultural commodity. The opportunity within the hemp industry continues to grow and experts believe that the success with the crop coming as long as the producers stay informed.   

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