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Processing, manufacturing still stalling workshops connected with industrial hemp in planning

Plumas County Planning Commissioners once again sent terminology back to staff for further fixes as discussions pertaining to rules around industrial hemp continue.

That was the direction from commissioners at the Sept. 5 meeting and should be on tomorrow’s agenda for further study if not approval.

In a previous planning workshop dealing with agricultural processing and manufacturing, planning commissioners believed in August they had determined the difference between processing and manufacturing on ag land with approved crops.

Staff returned with suggested wording to a draft amendment of ag zones, but commissioners weren’t satisfied.

Staff had rolled the term manufacturing into the meaning of processing in terms allowed agricultural practices. “Agricultural processing shall mean the making of agricultural commodities or products by hand or machinery that changes the natural condition of the commodity or product …”

Although this workshop didn’t deal specifically with industrial hemp, the terminology discussed includes industrial hemp and what’s allowed when harvested.

It was pointed out that this does not include cannabis in its marijuana form that is illegal in Plumas County. Up to six marijuana plants for medical or recreational use are allowed by the state and Plumas County.

The workshop also did not discuss composting as it might occur in major agricultural practices.

During public comment, Plumas County Ag Commissioner Tim Gibson said that composting is an integral part of farming or ranching. It was pointed out that anything but backyard gardening composting falls under the jurisdiction of Environmental Health. “As long as you don’t throw it next to a creek,” interjected Commissioner Jeff Greening.

“Among other things,” answered Environmental Health Director Jerry Sipe. There are plenty of state exemptions on ag land for composting, he explained. “None of that changes.”

The wording as discussed by staff doesn’t include processing of animals, it is plant based in this requirement.

It was also determined that the wording “grown on the premises” was too limiting, according to staff.

When the public meeting portion of the workshop closed commissioners discussed the new wording as presented by staff.

The “definitions always concerned me,” Greening said about processing and manufacturing. Although commissioners had determined that manufacturing could be folded into processing at the previous workshop, Greening said he still wanted to discuss it.

“We don’t expressly say manufacturing here,” said Tracey Ferguson, planning director.

Greening said he wasn’t sure that recent terminology from staff was broad enough to include everything that industrial hemp growers might want to do with a crop. As an example, he said that blocks of hemp for construction are being produced in Canada.

“Surf boards,” Commissioner Larry Williams pointed out as another use for industrial hemp. He added that hemp products are fueling airplanes.

“We need a breadth,” of product ideas, Greening said.

“It’s such a young industry opportunities are unknown,” Williams added.

Moving on, Greening said that when he thinks of machinery as it applies to agriculture needs, he never thinks of it as processing.

Assistant Planning Director Becky Herrin pointed out that terminology needs to appear as zoning language.

When Greening said he wasn’t comfortable adding manufacturing to processing, Herrin pointed out that users could apply for a special use permit when particular uses were considered.

“We could say that it could include, but is not limited to,” Herrin said about wording. She added that she didn’t want to get into uses because she didn’t want to make the language too specific.

Following more discussion, commissioners directed staff to work on terminology some more. The next workshop and possible adoption of the terminology is set for tomorrow, Sept. 19, at 10 a.m., in the planning department in Quincy.

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