As we start 2018, I wanted to give you an update on the status of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s (KDA) Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program.
2017 was a good year, and we did much to put this crop on a path towards commercialization in Kentucky once Congress acts to remove industrial hemp from the federal list of controlled substances.
Last year, our growers planted more acres of hemp than ever before, with more than 3,200 acres and another 46,000 square feet in indoor facilities. I am happy to report to you that we have approved more than 12,000 acres for industrial hemp research in 2018.
We also have more processors than ever before, filling a huge research need, and allowing us to explore the many applications of industrial hemp. It is imperative that Kentucky attract processors to drive innovation and spur economic development.
By now, applicants have been notified whether or not their 2018 grower applications were approved. Once conditionally approved applicants have attended mandatory training, the KDA will begin issuing licenses in March for the 2018 growing and processing season.
As you may know, I have still not received a formal response from the DEA, USDA and FDA regarding its 2016 Statement of Principles on Industrial Hemp (SOPIH). This is disappointing. I sent another letter to the DEA last month requesting a response to our concerns about the SOPIH and also for a meeting to discuss my concerns. You can read my comments here and watch my video message to the DEA here. Specifically, recent statements by a DEA spokesperson claims that consumable hemp-derived product is illegal to consume, a view which we are currently pushing back against.
I am hopeful that 2018 will be a great year for agriculture all around, and specifically for our industrial hemp research pilot program. I want you to know that if you ever need anything from the KDA’s team, please don’t hesitate to contact a member of KDA’s Hemp Staff.
Happy New Year!
Ryan F. Quarles
KY Department of Agriculture
105 Corporate Drive
Frankfort, KY 40601