USDA approves Iowa’s hemp program allowing farmers to grow crop this year

Iowa's hemp production plan has received approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. (Photo courtesy of USDA)

In a major milestone for Iowa’s hemp program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved the state’s production plan, which will allow farmers to plant and produce the crop.

Starting this year, Iowa farmers will be allowed to grow up to 40 acres of hemp with THC levels of 0.3% or less, according to the Iowa Department of Agriculture. Hemp crops produce a fiber that can be made into textiles, paper and rope, while hemp grains can be made into seed oil and protein powder.

Beyond the farming industry, the approval of the program also adds more clarity for retail sale of CBD products. After Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the act into law in 2019, CBD retailers advertising gummy bears, bath bombs and tinctures opened across the state. But muddied language, which the Iowa Legislature is currently trying to fix, has led to confusion about the legalities of the sales.

While sales of topical CBD products like bath bombs or lotions will be allowed, the Iowa Department of Agriculture argues it still does not allow the sale of consumable products like candy because it has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The next step before growing hemp officially becomes legal is a public hearing, which is scheduled for Friday morning and the publication of the act on the Iowa Administrative Bulletin scheduled for April 8.

Linh Ta
Reporter Linh Ta comes to Iowa Capital Dispatch from the Des Moines Register, where she covered trending news, public safety and the suburbs. Most recently, she has covered retail business and followed both national and local trends to provide insight about the issues that matter the most to Iowans. Beyond traditional journalism, Ta has worked as a speech coach with the Des Moines Storytellers Project with the goal of sharing the diverse perspectives of Iowans from all walks of life. She is the 2019 winner of the Young Iowa Journalist Award and the winner of an Iowa Broadcast News Award. Email her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @linhmaita.