The Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) has begun taking applications for its 2021 hemp licensing program.
The KDA last week announced the official November 16 launch of its online application portal for the hemp industry, as Commissioner Ryan Quarles revealed in September.
Growers who are interested in growing hemp in Kentucky have until March 15, 2021, to submit their applications, while processors may apply at any time of year.
“We believe there will be a long-term hemp market in Kentucky, but across America the hemp industry has been having a difficult year,” says Commissioner Quarles. “Acreage is down significantly across the nation in light of FDA regulatory burdens and overproduction concerns. There are some bright spots on the horizon, but we’ve always said we are building an industry from the ground up, and that is going to take time for the market to mature.”
Considering the risks, Quarles says that the KDA encourages growers to do their homework and evaluate whether they should decide to enter the hemp industry.
The KDA has also taken steps to facilitate a smooth transition for growers to new rules that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) plans to issue by the Summer of 2021.
The KDA has notified the USDA of its intentions to take advantage of portions of an omnibus bill that Congress passed this year that allows states to continue to operate hemp programs under the 2014 Farm Bill’s pilot program provisions.
According to Quarles, the KDA believes that operating under the 2014 Farm Bill’s research status provisions for another year while they transition to new USDA rules is the prudent thing to do, considering the current state of the national hemp industry and the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic.
United States Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) commended Quarles for his tireless leadership on behalf of Kentucky hemp growers, stating that “Kentucky will continue to benefit from the stability of the hemp pilot program I established for the 2014 Farm Bill.”
McConnell says that he will continue to strongly advocate on the behalf of hemp farmers, processors, and manufacturers for a “workable regulatory framework in the USDA’s final rule.”
The KDA has already submitted two rounds of comments on the USDA’s Interim Final Rule, urging the development of a regulatory framework that aligns with Kentucky hemp rules.