Ho-Chunk Farms, owned by the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, partners with Big Fire Law & Policy Group LLP to develop a Tribal Hemp Code to grow Hemp in 2020
Ho-Chunk Farms, owned by the Tribe’s Economic Development Corporation, will start growing and cultivating hemp. Ho-Chunk, Inc’s mission has been to drive the socio-economic development of the Winnebago people through a world-class Tribally owned company. Ho-Chunk, founded in 1994, has grown into a diversified corporation with numerous subsidiaries. Their business model reinvests in the Winnebago Tribe through programs including employment, housing, education, and health. Now Ho-Chunk Farms will be the second Indian nation, in Nebraska, to enter the industrial hemp industry.
In December 2018, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, Public Law 115-334 (2018 Farm Bill) legalized hemp production in the United States and its territories. The 2018 Farm Bill removes hemp from the Controlled Substances Act and defines hemp as the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of the plant with a delta-9 THC concentration of not more than 0.3 percent by dry weight. These changes in the 2018 Farm Bill allow the legal cultivation, possession, sale and distribution of the hemp plant. In addition to legalizing hemp production, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) delegates to Indian tribes the broad authority to regulate and limit the production and sale of hemp and hemp products within their reservation borders.
As part of the 2018 Farm Bill and corresponding regulations, Tribal governments can create their own regulatory framework for hemp production. Those plans must include procedures and documentation regarding:
- a practice to record and describe land on which hemp is grown;
- a procedure for testing THC concentration;
- a procedure for non-compliant product disposal;
- a procedure for annual inspections;
- a practice for submitting information to USDA; and
- a procedure for enforcing regulations.
Big Fire Law & Policy Group prepared the Tribal hemp plan and a new Tribal Hemp code section for the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska. These documents were submitted to the USDA and the Tribe’s hemp plan was approved on May 8, 2020. Now, Big Fire Law will provide next steps to assist the Tribe with the 2020 season and setting up their new enterprise. Hemp is a fast-growing, easily cultivated variety of the Cannabis sativa L. plant with many commercial uses, such as textile products and food.
Hemp crops now qualify for federal crop insurance, a voluntary insurance program that guarantees partial payment for crops lost to catastrophic events. The Federal Crop Insurance Act is amended to include hemp in the covered crops.
Big Fire Law & Policy Group LLP is excited about the foreseeable future in the increasing agricultural production in hemp for Indian country. We can assist with any agricultural issues, as well as a licensing for clients. If you are interested in potentially obtaining a hemp license, please give us a call and we can discuss the process.