The application period for the 2021 Kentucky Hemp Program is now open. Hemp growers have until March 15, 2021 to apply through the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) online licensing portal. Processor applications may be submitted year-round.
After experiencing a steady increase in hemp production since the fruition of the hemp pilot projects in 2014, licensed acreage dropped from 26,500 planted acres in 2019 to 5,000 in 2020. Still, the number of hemp growers remained about the same.
"We believe there will be a long-term hemp market in Kentucky, but across America the hemp industry has been having a difficult year,” said Commissioner Quarles said. “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 it is going to take time for the market to mature. As always, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture encourages growers to do their homework and assess the risk when evaluating whether or not to enter this industry.”
KDA has also communicated to the U.S. Department of Agriculture that it will take advantage of language included in recent omnibus bill passed by Congress this year that allows states to continue operating hemp programs under the research pilot program provisions of the 2014 Farm Bill. The move is meant to help ensure a smooth transition for growers to the final rules planned to be issued by USDA next summer.
“With everything going on in the hemp industry nationally and the uncertainty with the pandemic, we think it is prudent to take another year under the research status provisions of the 2014 Farm Bill as we transition our program to whatever final rules are issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture,” Quarles said.
For more about the Kentucky Hemp Program and how to apply, visit kyagr.com/hemp