Butte County reviews industrial hemp ordinance one year later

OROVILLE — It’s been a year since Butte County adopted its ordinance regarding industrial hemp, prompting the Board of Supervisors and Agricultural Commissioner Louis Mendoza to look back and analyze how the implementation has gone.

The ordinance was approved in November 2020 and went into effect the next month. With the ordinance came two specific guidelines.

One component of the ordinance requires that local hemp growers get a separate license from the county along with the required state registration.

The second component breaks down buffers and building codes. Grows have to be at least 300 feet from the closest boundary line of any property that could be considered to have a facility for youth. This includes schools, churches, parks school bus stops and residential treatment facilities as well as 100 feet from any occupied residential structure on a separate parcel.

If a grow is indoors, the structure has to comply with any applicable building codes. The same buffer zones are required for indoor hemp farms.

According to the related agenda report submitted by Mendoza, all registered hemp growers complied with the ordinance.

So far, there hasn’t been much activity, Mendoza said.

Mendoza said he found that most growers had no issue with the process and ordinance. There was some early concern over getting a surety bond, which growers are required to have in order to pay if the farm does not meet the requirements, but those that registered were able to obtain them

All registered growers informed the Butte County Department of Agriculture that they would be growing in 2022.

Since the ordinance’s implementation, there have been two complaints that were presented by Mendoza during his presentation before the board.

One was on a grower in the southeast section of Palermo from someone concerned about the hemp but after checking the farm out, the farmer who owned the grow was following all of the guidelines.

There were two farms that registered in 2020 but did not get a license for 2021 and therefore were abated by Butte County Code Enforcement.

Mendoza suggested that the county continue the same ordinance going forward without change.

Because the item was an informational presentation during the Butte County Board of Supervisors meeting, there was no need for a vote.

The Butte County Board of Supervisors generally meets at 9 a.m. on the second and third Tuesday of the month at its chambers located at 25 County Center Drive, Suite 205 in Oroville. Meetings are free and open to the public. Those who are not fully vaccinated are required to wear a mask while in the building.

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