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Industrial hemp seed inches closer to TN farmers' hands

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The Tennessee Department of Agriculture has received word from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency that its registration to import hemp seed has been approved.

This follows months of discussion between the two agencies about specificts of Tennessee's industrial hemp pilot program that have farmers unsure they'll get the hemp seed in time to plant a crop. The good news is no additional restrictions have been set on the program regarding acreage or number of participants, said Corinne Gould, TDA deputy director of public affairs.

Tennessee's initial applications totalled more than 2,100 acres by 53 growers, far exceeding those from nearby states like Kentucky that have launched similar programs.

It means planting is one step closer to reality, but more approvals wrangling is ahead.

TDA should receive its registration information in the next few days, but it still has to apply for specific import permits, which also must be DEA approved, said Gould. No time frame for that process has been given. The department plans to order seed from Canada and Australia, each of which must follow particular export rules for their country. 

As such, there's still not a firm date for when the seed will be distributed, and the clock is ticking. Farmers need to plant by late May or early June for the best crop.

Photo: In this May 19, 2014 file photo, a farmer holds a handful of hemp seeds, on a day of planting in Sterling, Colo. (AP Photo/Kristen Wyatt, File)

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