DES MOINES — The USDA unveiled its rules for the production of industrial hemp last week and now the state of Iowa can move forward with its plan.

Robin Pruisner is putting together that state plan and says they now have the 161-page federal plan that has sections dictating the state plans. “We need to digest those. We had drafted up some rules that we thought was probably the direction that the USDA was gonna go,” Pruisner. She says the one key part of the plan is how to test the hemp to be sure it is legal.

“What I’ve really been looking for is any protocols they have for sampling and testing. In an ideal world all the states would do it the same — instead of the situation we are in now where the states at times are at times wildly different from one another,” Pruisner says. So I am glad that they did lay down some sort of protocol that will help make the process uniform.”

The testing is one of the final steps in the hemp season. “Before a farmer can harvest the hemp, we need to officially sample it and test it and make sure that it is below that point-three percent THC. And once that happens — the producers then can harvest it and process it,” she says. She says on her first look at the USDA, plan, there don’t appear to be a lot of issues.

“I think much of what is in that USDA, document aligns with the stature that the governor signed in May here in Iowa,” according to Pruisner.

Pruisner says the prospect of growing hemp has piqued a lot of interest. “I speak to many people about hemp every day. My new hobby is talking on phone,” Pruisner says, “and I think we have a lot of people out there who are giving really serious thought to this. And then there are other people who have maybe read a short article on this or have seen something online, and they don’t have a lot of information.”

She says she tells those considering hemp production one thing. Pruisner says the number one piece of advice is you should not plant hemp until you have a contract to sell it. “This isn’t like corn or soybeans where there is an open market and you can sell it to this grain elevator or that ethanol plan. You need to know what your final buyer wants and grow accordingly,” Pruisner says.

She says the release of information for the USDA, now lets them get the Iowa plan completed. “I would say that we’re over halfway there, but there’s a lot of details in this plan from the USDA, that we have to address,” Pruisner says. She says the USDA, will have 60 days to review the plan and give their approval once they complete and submit it.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is also drafting administrative rules that will be released for public comment in the coming weeks. You can find updates on the state  hemp program here: