2021 Industrial Hemp Pilot Research Program

The Program

The Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill, Section 10113) directed the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to issue regulations and guidelines on implementing a program for the commercial production of industrial hemp in the United States. Industrial hemp includes the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part or derivate of such plant with a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of no more than 0.3% on a dry weight basis.

Industrial hemp shows promise as a potential cash crop for Maryland and has evinced interests from stakeholders statewide. The Maryland Department of Agriculture currently requires farmers to partner with institutions of higher education for hemp cultivation under a research program. The University of Maryland Eastern Shore is committed to the development of industrial hemp as a cash crop through research and outreach partnership efforts with stakeholders statewide.

We anticipate a significant amount of interest in this program among farmers and the industry and have developed an application process for the selection of farmers and industry partners in the research program. We hope to identify the most eligible partners based on several parameters such as geographical location, soil and microclimate, previous experience with farming crops, available equipment/implements for crop management, and fulfilling other requirements set forth by the Maryland Department of Agriculture for industrial hemp production. We hope to have a productive outcome through these partnerships to generate science-based knowledge on industrial hemp production, and subsequent dissemination of this information for establishing industrial hemp as a cash crop in Maryland.

The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) stipulates that the University of Maryland Eastern Shore will be able to partner only with farmers who meet certain qualifications to cultivate industrial hemp for academic or agricultural research. The requirements include:

    1.   Be at least 18 years old;
    2.   Pass a criminal background check with no felony convictions in the past 10 years;
    3.   Own or lease with the approval of the owner, the property used for hemp production;
    4.   Have the site registered and approved with MDA before contracting to grow or
          cultivate hemp;
    5.   Grant MDA permission to enter and inspect the property and ensure compliance with
          the  requirements  of this chapter;
  6.  Only grow hemp on land zoned for agricultural purposes, which is at least 1000 feet
          away from a school  or recreational area;
    7.   Post a sign on the certified site notifying the public that the site is used in a pilot
        program to grow  industrial hemp; and
    8.   Attend an MDA orientation session explaining the regulation’s requirements, in
          cooperation with the partnering institution, before contracting to grow or cultivate hemp.

Applicants interested in partnering with the University of Maryland Eastern Shore may complete an application and submit it via mail to the address listed on the application or by email to sdhekney@umes.edu along with a $ 50 non-refundable fee. A check for the application fee can be written to the  University of Maryland Eastern Shore. The application will only be reviewed after the payment is received. The screening and selection process of applications will be carried out in two phases. An initial screening of applicants to identify potential partners will be completed by the committee. The second phase of on-site interviews will be conducted by faculty from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Once applicants are approved, a partnership will be developed by signing a memorandum of understanding. After the partnership is developed and the memorandum of understanding is signed, partners will remit a participation fee of $ 2,000 to the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. If the participation fee is not received, partners will not be eligible to work with the institution in 2021. Following the completion of the memorandum of understanding, the applicant can submit an application to the MDA for participation in the industrial hemp program. Following MDA approval, university faculty will begin to assist partners with the pilot hemp production program. If the partner’s MDA application is rejected, the participation fee will be refunded.

Application reviews, site interviews, and decisions to partner will be completed as and when applications are received.

   2021 Industrial Hemp Pilot Research Program Application

   Quick Links . . .

   Maryland Department of
   Agriculture Industrial Hemp
   Pilot Program

   USDA Domestic Hemp 
   Production Program

   Contact us:

   Dr. Sadanand Dhekney
   Department of Agriculture,
   Food and Resource Sciences
   School of Agricultural
   and Natural Sciences
   1 College Backbone Rd.
   Princess Anne, MD 21853

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