Kentucky Extends Pilot Hemp Research Program For One More Year

Kentucky will be extending its hemp research program for an additional year as the state prepares to make the switch to commercial production in 2021.

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Ryan Quarles on Tuesday announced that the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) would use 2020 to transition from the state’s current pilot program, established under the 2014 Farm Bill, to industrial hemp production, as allowed under the 2018 Farm Bill.

According to the KDA, Kentucky will continue to operate its program in 2020 under the 2014 provision and use the extension to hold more discussions with stakeholders and the USDA.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published an Interim Final Rule (IFR) in October of 2019, establishing a federal regulatory framework for industrial hemp in the U.S. and providing states with an option to conduct programs through the state pilot provision of the 2014 Farm Bill for the 2020 growing year.

On December 17, 2019, the USDA extended the public comment period for the IFR until January 29, 2020.

Stakeholders can submit written comments on the IFR and proposed information collection at the website.

The KDA will be submitting comments to the USDA regarding the IFR before the deadline.

“The 2018 Farm Bill removed industrial hemp from the federal list of controlled substances, a move which has been a catalyst for hemp growers and businesses,” says Quarles. “Wisely, Congress also gave state departments of agriculture the option to operate state pilot programs for another year before submitting new plans to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The industry has changed dramatically, but the national hemp marketplace is experiencing some real challenges.”

Following discussions with industry stakeholders, Quarles says he determined that Kentucky would continue operating the current hemp program for another year as plans are made to take the state’s hemp industry into the next phase in 2021 and beyond.

Hemp growers in Kentucky can submit applications until March 15, 2020, and processors may apply at any time during the year via the KDA website.