Ag exception

Asked July 11, 2019, 3:15 PM EDT

I'm building a barn to dry my hemp plants. I am licenced to grow through Michigan State. I was told that because it's hemp farming that it does not qualify for the ag exception. Is this correct?

Cass County Michigan

4 Responses

I'll need more information before I can adequately address the question. Do you mean "ag exemption"? What exception/exemption are you specifically referring to? What are you trying to do with/about the barn that you are running into difficulty? Supply as much detail as you can in your updated question.

Generally speaking, since industrial hemp has been legalized at the federal level, it will be treated like any other agricultural crop in many respects, although there will be an additional layer of regulatory oversight for obvious reasons. For example, crop insurance products for industrial hemp are currently being developed/offered by different companies. Our generally accepted agricultural management practices (GAAMP's) and right-to-farm protections will be extended to industrial hemp growers, although there may be a transition period of sorts as we await final regulatory language from the USDA.

Thank you very much for your response. I was specifically wanting to know if building permits would be needed in the building of the barn. As I understand if you are using the structure specifically for agricultural purposes you are excepted from needing a building permit. To date I turned in all plans to the township and explained my plans. They said if I was growing anything else it would qualify but because it's hemp it doesn't qualify. I paid $50 at the first step and a additional over $700 for the building permit. Now they are wanting a HVAC plumbing and electrical too.

Michigan Farm Bureau has posted a helpful resource titled, "Building Permit Exemption" (https://www.michfb.com/mi/farm_business_resources/natural_resources_and_environment/building_permit_...). The pertinent building codes are referenced which you may find useful as you talk with your local zoning official and building inspector. Michigan's Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) Permits Division (517-241-9313) which oversees building permits would be another place to contact with questions and concerns. You can reference Section 7605 of the 2018 Farm Bill (https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/BILLS-115hr2enr/pdf/BILLS-115hr2enr.pdf) to refer to the legalization of industrial hemp at the federal level. As I mentioned in my previous response, local officials may choose to remain in a "holding pattern" as we await final regulatory guidance from the USDA regarding implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill. However, you can make the case that since industrial hemp has been legalized at the federal and state level (MI Prop 1 which legalized industrial hemp cultivation and MI HBs 6330, 6331 & 6380 which clarified regulation of industrial hemp research), it should be considered a legitimate agricultural crop. If there is a concern about industrial hemp's confusion with marijuana, you can also point them toward MDARD's website (https://www.michigan.gov/documents/lara/2019-lara-marijuana-hemp-11x17_650698_7.pdf) where they explain the legal differences between the two.

Thank you very much for the information Eric. I am growing frustrated because even after forwarding this email to my local building inspector he still said I need all of the permits. I have called the LARA state permitting but I have not had a response to date.