North Dakota seeks growers for 2019 hemp research program

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) North Dakota's Agriculture Department is seeking growers for the fourth year of its industrial hemp research program.

The goal of the pilot program is to determine whether hemp can be a successful crop in North Dakota, and which varieties work best in the state's climate.

The 2018 federal farm bill removes hemp from the list of federally controlled substances and treats the low-THC version of the cannabis plant like any other agricultural crop. But the federal government won't have regulations ready until the 2020 growing season.

State Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring says his department must operate under the 2014 farm bill regulations for the upcoming growing season. That means hemp can only be grown through the state program or by universities.

Goehring says the state will follow the intent of the 2018 farm bill as much as possible.