Breaking News: Senate Ag. Committee leaders agree on bipartisan Farm Bill language that will include a hemp reform provision

Happy Hemp History Week!

Each year we end up having some great news to report during Hemp History Week and this year is no different. Vote Hemp was in Washington yesterday for our lobby day with participants from around the country who conducted more than 70 meetings advocating for passage of legislation to bring back commercial hemp farming in the U.S.

While we were on the Hill, Senate Agriculture leaders announced they are releasing a new bipartisan Farm Bill today and hope to have it passed before the end of June. Yesterday during a Lobby Day meeting, Sen. Boozman (R-AR) informed us that Senator Roberts and Senator Stabenow have included language from the Hemp Farming Act language in the base bill. This is huge news!

The Farm Bill is must pass legislation that has to be reauthorized every 5 years. This is our best chance yet to legalize commercial hemp farming.

This week we also saw Sen. McConnell and Senator Wyden pass a resolution via unanimous consent commemorating Hemp History Week. Senator Wyden also spoke about the need to pass the Hemp Farming Act on the Senate floor:

Wyden: Hemp History Week and Urging Congress to Allow American Farmers to Grow Hemp

We have the wind at our back thanks to your support. Together we will bring hemp farming back to American agriculture.

Eric Steenstra

President, Vote Hemp

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Hemp Program Now Taking Applications for 2018

Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles announced today that the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) has opened the application period for Kentuckians wishing to participate in the state’s industrial hemp research pilot program for the 2018 growing season.

“I am proud to report that our program participants grew more than 3,200 acres of hemp this year, the most ever under the industrial hemp research program,” said Commissioner Quarles. “My vision is to expand and strengthen our research pilot program to put industrial hemp on a responsible path toward commercialization. Our increased production and processing is welcome news for the industry.”

Industrial hemp is one of several alternative crops, including hops and kenaf, that have made headway in Kentucky’s agricultural economy in recent years. In 2017, Kentucky’s farmers planted 3,200 acres of hemp, up from 2,350 acres in 2016, 922 acres in 2015, and 33 acres in 2014, the first year of the program. In addition to 194 grower participants, 48 hemp processors are conducting research as part of the KDA program.

Applications may be downloaded from the KDA website at kyagr.com/hemp. Grower applications must be postmarked or received by November 15, 2017, at 4:30 p.m. EST.  Processor/Handler applications are preferred by November 15, 2017, with a final deadline of June 1, 2018.

Public Input on Draft Administrative Regulations

The KDA is also opening a public comment period for preliminary draft regulations governing the industrial hemp research pilot program. Earlier this year, the Kentucky General Assembly passed Senate Bill 218, tasking the KDA with promulgating administrative regulations for the program. Once the process is complete, program rules will be found in administrative regulations, as the law prescribes.

Department officials ask that interested members of the public submit their comments in writing by October 31 so that the agency can consider those comments prior to filing the regulations with the Legislative Research Commission later this year. The draft administrative regulations will be used as the policy to guide the program in 2018.

The draft regulations are available at kyagr.com/hemp. Written comments may be submitted by mail to KDA Hemp Program, 111 Corporate Drive, Frankfort, KY 40601 or by email to hemp@ky.gov with “Hemp Reg Comments” in the subject line.

KDA operates its industrial hemp research pilot program under the authority of state law (KRS 260.850-260.869) and a provision of the 2014 federal Farm Bill (7 U.S.C. § 5940) that authorizes state-managed hemp pilot programs.

Brent Burchett, Director

Division of Value-Added Plant Production

Office of Agricultural Marketing and Product Promotion

Kentucky Department of Agriculture

111 Corporate Drive Frankfort, KY 40601

brent.burchett@ky.gov | Office: 502-782-4120