FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentuckians interested in participating in the industrial hemp research pilot program in 2017 are invited to submit an application with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.
“The pilot research program will continue to build on the successes of the previous administration by developing research data on industrial hemp production, processing, manufacturing, and marketing for Kentucky growers,” Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said. “KDA’s objective is to expand and strengthen Kentucky’s research pilot program, so that if the federal government chooses to remove industrial hemp from the list of controlled substances, Kentucky’s growers and farmers will be positioned to thrive, prosper and ultimately prevail as national leaders in industrial hemp production.”
The KDA operates its program under the authority of a provision of the 2014 federal farm bill, 7 U.S.C. § 5940, that permits industrial hemp pilot programs in states where hemp production is permitted by state law. Participants planted more than 2,350 acres of hemp in 2016 compared with 922 acres in 2015 and 33 acres in 2014, the first year of the program.
Applicants should be aware of important new measures for the 2017 research program, including the following:
• To strengthen the department’s partnership with state and local law enforcement officers, KDA will provide GPS coordinates of approved industrial hemp planting sites to law enforcement agencies before any hemp is planted. GPS coordinates must be submitted on the application. Applicants must consent to allow program staff and law enforcement officers to inspect any premises where hemp or hemp products are being grown, handled, stored, or processed.
• To promote transparency and ensure a fair playing field, KDA will rely on objective criteria, outlined in the newly released 2017 Policy Guide, to evaluate applications. An applicant’s criminal background check must indicate no drug-related misdemeanor convictions, and no felony convictions of any kind, in the past 10 years. Staff with the KDA’s industrial hemp pilot project program will consider whether applicants have complied with instructions from the department, Kentucky State Police, and local law enforcement.
• As the research program continues to grow, KDA’s hemp staff needs additional resources and manpower to administer this tremendously popular program. The addition of participant fees will enable KDA Hemp Staff to handle an increasing workload without needing additional taxpayer dollars from the General Assembly. Program applicants will be required to submit a nonrefundable application fee of $50 with their applications. Successful applicants will be required to pay additional program fees.
Grower applications must be postmarked or received by the KDA marketing office no later than Nov. 14, 2016 at 4:30 p.m. EST. Processor or handler applicants are encouraged to submit their applications by Nov. 14, 2016 at 4:30 p.m. EST.
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