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USDA Adds Hemp to Crop Insurance; Guidance for Noem and Other Agents Coming Friday!

We may be one step closer to convincing Governor Kristi Noem that it’s o.k. to grow hemp. The USDA has approved selling crop insurance to hemp farmers in 2020:

Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles applauded today’s announcement from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that certain hemp growers may obtain insurance coverage under the Whole-Farm Revenue Protection Program in 2020.

“This is an important step toward reviving the hemp industry in the United States,” Commissioner Quarles said. “We are grateful to the Risk Management Agency and Administrator Barbre for providing this opportunity for hemp growers to protect their investment” [staff, “Quarles Commends USDA for Hemp Announcement,” Middlesboro Daily News, 2019.08.27].

Here’s the full release, straight from the USDA Risk Management Agency:

WASHINGTON, August 27, 2019 — Certain industrial hemp growers will be able to obtain insurance coverage under the Whole-Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP) program for crop year 2020. USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) today announced coverage for hemp grown for fiber, flower or seeds, which will be available to producers who are in areas covered by USDA-approved hemp plans or who are part of approved state or university research pilot programs.

“Numerous producers are anxious for a way to protect their hemp crops from natural disasters,” said RMA Administrator Martin Barbre. “The WFRP policy will provide a safety net for them. We expect to be able to offer additional hemp coverage options as USDA continues implementing the 2018 Farm Bill.”

Producers can obtain WFRP coverage for hemp now if they are part of a Section 7606 state or university research pilot as authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. Other producers cannot obtain coverage until a USDA-approved plan is in place.

WFRP allows coverage of all revenue for commodities produced on a farm up to a total insured revenue of $8.5 million. It is popular for specialty crops, organic commodities and non-traditional crops.

The 2018 Farm Bill amended the Controlled Substances Act to address how industrial hemp is to be defined and regulated at the federal level, and those modifications cleared the way for the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation to offer policies for it. The Farm Bill defines hemp as containing 0.3 percent or less tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) on a dry weight basis.

Policy Requirements

RMA has started addressing the changes by offering hemp coverage under WFRP for the 2020 crop year. To be eligible, among other requirements, a hemp producer must comply with applicable state, tribal or federal regulations for hemp production and have a contract for the purchase of the insured industrial hemp.

WFRP provisions state that hemp having THC above the compliance level will not constitute an insurable cause of loss. Additionally, hemp will not qualify for replant payments under WFRP.

Hemp Plans

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is formulating regulations that will include specific details for both a USDA plan for the production of hemp and a process for submission of state, territorial or tribal plans to USDA. AMS is developing the regulation now, which is anticipated to post to the Federal Register later this year.

Once rulemaking is complete, RMA, the Farm Service Agency (FSA), the Natural Resources Conservation Service and other USDA agencies will share eligibility information on their programs, which include safety net, conservation, farm loan and disaster assistance programs. This includes FSA looking at additional coverage options through its Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program and through RMA-administered crop insurance.

More Information
For more information on the Hemp Production Program, visit the AMS Hemp Production webpage and these questions and answers.

For more information on WFRP coverage, visit the Hemp and Farm Bill Programs webpage on RMA will publish a bulletin with additional information for approved insurance providers on Aug. 30 [USDA-RMA, press release, 2019.08.27].

First Dude Bryon Noem of Noem Insurance Inc. is surely eager to see that guidance for insurers coming out on Friday. Noem has not yet posted his response to this opportunity to help you manage your hemp risk; his agency’s Facebook page offers only a slow trickle of dreary imitations of DeSmet Farm Mutual’s folksy “Memories” marketing ploy, repackaged by Bryon as “Memories in Cleveland Township.” Maybe Bryon can work up some nice Hemp Memories:

…My grandpa told me about the good old days when he and his buddies one time snuck out behind the church after Sunday School and tried to smoke some hemp. They’d heard hemp could make crazy city people dance like chickens, so they’d “borrowed” a few leaves of hemp from old Smoky Röllvag’s field, dried and crumbled ’em, and rolled what they had into some pages torn from the Farmer’s Almanac. Boy, did they have another think coming! Old Smoky grew industrial hemp, not the smoking kind. The only dancing was done by their breakfast, which jumped right out of their stomachs and onto their shoes.

Grandpa learned his lesson that day: you can’t smoke industrial hemp. But now you sure can insure it! After government took that crop away from us, government is giving it back. Call Noem Insurance today for a quote on a policy for next year’s most promising cash crop!

Stay tuned: if the USDA guidance to insurers looks sufficiently promising, maybe the missus will call a Special Session to put a state plan in place for USDA approval so the mister can start writing policies for all of his hemprepreneurial neighbors in Cleveland Township.


  1. Nick Nemec 2019-08-28 08:29

    Unless a special session is called, and called soon, the 2020 growing season is shot. Gov. Noem’s foot dragging has successfully put hemp growing in South Dakota off until 2021at the earliest, assuming the 2020 legislature OKs hemp as a crop in SD. It takes time to get everything in place for a new crop. Learning how to grow it, which machinery and techniques are needed for proper planting, tending and harvesting, finding markets or processors all take time, time that is quickly running out.

  2. Eve Fisher 2019-08-28 09:31

    I was thinking that her real opposition was that her husband’s crop insurance business couldn’t cash in. Of course, it’s also possible that she saw Reefer Madness and thought it was real.

  3. kj trailer trash 2019-08-28 13:17

    Hemp will absolutely become a cash crop in SD now that Bry-Bry can get rich(er) off even more taxpaper-subsidized income for him. Like most Republicans, all Kristi can see are: a warped version of Christianity, and dollar signs.

  4. Lora Hubbel 2019-08-28 14:26

    I TOLD you she would hinder hemp until she could benefit from it….just so hemp crop insurance is not MANDATORY….hemp doesn’t need insurance since its almost indestructible.

  5. Certain Inflatable Recreational Devices 2019-08-28 15:47

    What about the incessant warnings I heard from Lou Seibert, Art Fryslie, Paul Dennert and other jerks15 years ago when I was lobbying for hemp in Pierre.


    When I pointed out that farmers go broke growing corn, soybeans and sunflowers every year in SoDak, the same sky-will-fall jerks threatened to lynch me for my obvious lack of patriotism.

  6. Debbo 2019-08-28 20:47

    If NoMa’am suddenly converts to the pro hemp camp, I’m going to assume the hubs ability to sell insurance on it played the critical role. Seems fair to me.

  7. Porter Lansing 2019-08-28 20:54

    Debbo has a valid point. Not that she’ll be known as “The Doper Governor Queen”, or anything.
    “Them damn tater tots are rotten!”

  8. grudznick 2019-08-28 21:38

    Now, now, Mr. Nemec. I’ve been hearing hemp is so easy to plant and nigh impossible to kill, I think anybody who has grown a few zuchinnis in their back yard could wander about a field with a handful of seed, scattering it like Johnny Hempseed with a buttered popcorn bucket on their head, and get filthy rich. People will be growing it in their gardens and bringing in baskets to work to put in the breakroom for their co-workers.

  9. Porter Lansing 2019-08-28 22:06

    Hemp needs a check off, a well respected Republican lobbyist, and a refurbished ethanol plant converted to CBD production. Corn gas is history, anyway. I’ve never tried CBD for my neuropathy but it sure reads well. But, $75 for something you can get in legal cannibis for $2 bucks? That’s a deal breaker. Price needs to com waaaaaay down.

  10. Adam 2019-08-29 12:11

    I think it’s really funny watching an extra backward rural state flail around trying to catch up to (while also trying very hard to stay distinctly behind) other rural states.

    SD doesn’t want to be like other American states because it’s a slippery slope to being just like Socialist Europe.

    “Dakota” translates to “Empty and Backwards” in some languages.

  11. Porter Lansing 2019-08-29 12:26

    Adam has a distorted view of SD. He’s judging and comparing it to the wrong example. South Dakota is a cultural and developmental museum. There’s less than a million people. More than that go through the Louvre every week. USA needs museums to the past. Especially ones that are stubborn and dedicated to not changing. It’s important and it’s South Dakota!

  12. Adam 2019-08-29 12:39

    In downtown Minneapolis, in the Mill District, you can take a tour of an old General Mills processing facility. You can learn about old timey Betty Crocker advertising and learn a lot about our Agricultural past. In Flint Michigan, you can go to the museum that teaches us all about the history of automobile manufacturing in the area.

    But to make a whole state into one giant empty museum, that’s just going too far. Museums are located within individual buildings which are designed for walking tours – and very particularly not large swaths of land run by backward isolationist peoples.

    Perhaps I’m wrong to compare South Dakota to other rural states which allow their farmers to grow industrial hemp, but I just don’t think so.

  13. Porter Lansing 2019-08-29 12:51

    I see your point, Adam. Museum is a metaphor. And, it what the majority wants. GALT (Germans Are Like That)

  14. Adam 2019-08-29 17:33

    I see your point as well, Porter. It was a good point.

  15. Peg 2019-08-29 19:49

    With Noem’s hubby being able to sell hemp crop insurance in 2020, she will then jump to be for its production. If it was made legal before that, farmers would have stopped buying other crop insurance from her hubby as they switched their fields over. Hemp is MUCH hardier than corn and soy and it requires far less water. It also does not need all the poisonous fertilizers and pesticides! So Monsanto/Bayer was probably pulling her strings to stop it until they can control the market.

  16. Debbo 2019-08-29 21:31

    Ain’t gonna happen. From NoMa’am herself as published in the SFAL:

    “As a farmer and rancher, I would be thrilled to get a new crop into the hands of our producers, especially as our ag markets struggle. A new source of revenue for farmers would be great. But industrial hemp is not the answer.

    “Legalizing industrial hemp legalizes marijuana by default. I asked my cabinet and other experts in state government to see what other states are doing on hemp and how they are implementing their laws. But what they’ve come back with is example after example of drug laws becoming murky and unenforceable.”

  17. Debbo 2019-08-30 23:15

    With NoMa’am and Incompetent Ignoramus bumbling everything, it’s not going to get better. This excerpt is from an LTE in the Strib by a Minnesota farmer:

    “When the tariffs come off (who knows when), prices will probably not return to pre-tariff levels. Now that President Donald Trump’s tariffs have been in place for 18 months, farmers have seen markets that they built over 40 years (through money raised by farmers’ crop checkoff payments) permanently damaged. This has not only affected short-term prices, but now China is investing in the infrastructure of Brazil for Brazilian agricultural products so it can bypass U.S. farmers. Brazilian forest fires have dramatically jumped because of the money that China has pumped into Brazil’s infrastructure to support shipments of soybeans, corn and beef to Chinese and Asian markets.”
    Katherine Dantzler-Olson, Dawson, MINN.

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