FRANKFORT, Ky. — Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles has announced that the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) has opened the application period for Kentuckians wishing to participate in the state’s industrial hemp research pilot program for the 2019 growing season.
“I am proud to report that our program participants grew more than 6,700 acres of hemp this year, the most ever under the industrial hemp research program,” said Commissioner Quarles. “The exponential growth in our program year to year demonstrates the excitement and optimism about the industry. At the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, we will continue to strengthen our research pilot program to put industrial hemp on a responsible path toward commercialization.”
Industrial hemp is one of several alternative crops, including hops and kenaf, that have made headway in Kentucky’s agricultural economy in recent years. In 2018, Kentucky’s farmers planted 6,700 acres of hemp, up from 3,200 acres in 2017, 2,350 acres in 2016, 922 acres in 2015, and 33 acres in 2014, the first year of the program. In addition to 210 grower participants, 72 hemp processors are conducting research as part of the KDA program.
Applications may be downloaded from the KDA website at kyagr.com/hemp. Grower applications must be postmarked or received by November 30, 2018, at 4:30 p.m. EST. Processor/Handler applications are preferred by November 30, 2018, with a final deadline of June 3, 2019.
“The growth of our program demonstrates Congress must pass a Farm Bill that includes Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Hemp Farming Act of 2018,” said Commissioner Quarles. “With two strong hemp advocates, Leader McConnell and Congressman James Comer, serving on the Farm Bill conference committee, I am confident the interest of Kentucky’s industrial hemp growers will be well-represented.”
In 2017, the Kentucky General Assembly passed Senate Bill 218, tasking KDA with promulgating administrative regulations for the program. Program rules can be found in administrative regulations, as the law prescribes, in 302 KAR 50:020 – 50:080.