County adopts region’s first-ever Hemp Cultivation Ordinance
The Merced County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously adopted a much-anticipated Hemp Cultivation Ordinance that puts rules in place and provides a structure for a growing industry that utilizes this region’s rich farmland.
The ordinance is arriving expeditiously — a month ahead of schedule — so that growers can prepare for a productive season next year. It will go into effect around Sept. 26.
The county went ahead with the ordinance without full knowledge of pending or possible new state regulations.
“They are still evolving and we may miss the mark, but we are giving it our best effort with what we know today,” said Jim Brown, the county’s CEO. “We’ve tried to find that balance of consistency with your existing land use policy for ag crops, while at the same time addressing concerns of the unknowns with this new crop.”
The county’s Planning Commission had already voted unanimously to adopt the ordinance on Aug. 14.
Here are some of the main components of the ordinance:
- Establishes a registration and license process with the Agricultural Commissioner.
- A1 Zoning with a 20-acre minimum parcel size
- 200 ft. setback from boundary of parcel to address nuisance issues
- 1,000 ft. setback from “sensitive receptor (schools, churches, etc.)
- 200 ft. setback from any residence
- Property owner consent (for registration process)
- Signage required to ID crop as hemp.
- State regulations are adopted for testing
- Allows for indoor cultivation for transplants (plant that is no older than 8 weeks and no taller than 8 inches)
County staff anticipates amendments in months ahead to perfect the ordinance.