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Applications start today for hemp licensing, as Ag Commissioner expects long-term hemp market

The window to apply for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s 2021 hemp licensing program opens today (Nov. 16), Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Ryan Quarles has announced.

“We believe there will be a long-term hemp market in Kentucky, but across America the hemp industry has been having a difficult year,” 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.

Ryan Quarles

“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.”

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA), which administers Kentucky’s hemp licensing program, is hosting an online application portal on its hemp webpage. Grower applications must be submitted by March 15, 2021. Processor applications may be submitted year-round.

KDA 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.

“Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles deserves our gratitude for his tireless leadership on behalf of Kentucky hemp growers. As we keep working with the USDA to overcome the remaining hurdles, Kentucky will continue to benefit from the stability of the hemp pilot program I established in the 2014 farm bill,” said U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “Even now, we’re seeing new examples of this crop’s versatility and potential. I’ll continue strongly advocating on behalf of hemp farmers, processors, and manufacturers for a workable regulatory framework in the USDA’s final rule.”

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture has submitted two rounds of comments on the Interim Final Rule to USDA to encourage the agency to develop a regulatory framework aligned more closely with the rules in Kentucky.

For a copy of KDA’s comments to USDA, click here.

For more information about the KDA’s hemp program, go to kyagr.com/hemp.

Kentucky Department of Agriculture

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