In 2014 the U.S. passed a farm bill which removed industrial hemp from the Controlled Substances Act. This also created a pilot program, which allows states to legally grow hemp for research purposes. This is the first time in almost 80 years that hemp will be grown legally, at least according to the United States government. Multiple states have passed laws which allow industrial hemp to be grown – but Colorado and Kentucky are definitely leading the way in hemp production and research.
“In the first year, about 30 acres were planted. In the second year, about 900. This year, over 2,000. And we fully expect there to be substantial growth in 2017,” Ryan Quarles, Kentucky’s agricultural commissioner told Kentucky Public Radio.
Now, the Kentucky state Department of Agriculture has begun accepting applications for farmers who wish to participate in the state’s pilot program under this 2014 bill. They will be accepting applications until November 14th, and they must be submitted with a $350 application fee, per grower address. Other fees involved in participating in the pilot program include those for producers and private labs, which can range from $400 to $1,000 depending on the size of the facility, along with a $50 nonrefundable application fee.
“We want to make sure that Kentucky continues to be the go-to state for industrial hemp,” the Ag commissioner said. Quarles said Kentucky and Colorado are leading the nation in industrial hemp innovation.
Over the last few years, those who have dedicated their time to growing industrial hemp have had to learn from age-old techniques to grow the plants – after all, with the decades old ban, there has not been much improvement in the cultivation of hemp plants. Part of the research program is to learn and establish best practices when it comes to growing and harvesting the hemp – as well as when processing the plant to be used in a variety of different items.
With hemp being federally legal to grow, it will only be a matter of time before we start seeing more and more hemp products which are made right here in the U.S. Currently, almost every hemp product found in stores and online has been imported and it has been this way for years. Knowing the hundreds – if not thousands – of uses for industrial hemp, hemp farmers should be able to make a solid income based on their new cash crop, and Kentucky is in a position to see great growth from this new opportunity.