Now that hemp has been removed from the list of federally controlled substances, Kentucky is said to be preparing for a surge of the industry. The agricultural commissioner of the state revealed on Tuesday that they have approved more than a thousand applications to produce a thousand acres of hemp for 2019. In the previous year, hemp growers cultivated the plant only in a 6,700-acre of land area. This year, it’s expected to reach 42,086 acres!
The Leader in Hemp Production
The surge in the application of licenses to grow hemp could make Kentucky become the leader in the industry. These figures clearly state the state’s excitement for the hemp industry. The significant increase in the number of applications is proof that Kentucky is fast becoming a leader in the United States’ thriving hemp industry.
It was late last year that hemp became a legal agricultural product, thanks to the approval of the Federal Farm Bill. The bill sought to remove hemp from the list of federally controlled substances. The leafy plant was banned for several decades because of its close ties to marijuana, which is known for its ability to get someone high.
Kentucky’s Mainstream Support for Hemp
Hemp gained mainstream support in the state of Kentucky several years ago. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, which is one of the state’s most prominent political leaders, led the campaign for the Congress to legalize hemp. Legalizing the plant means farmers can now acquire crop insurance and apply for grants and loans. Above all, this would allow them to write off their expenses when filing their taxes, like other farmers do.
The State Dept. of Agriculture in Kentucky has revealed last Tuesday that they have approved 40 new applications from cannabis growers wanting to process hemp-derived products. This is on top of the 69 existing growers who are in the process of renewing their licenses for 2019.
Maximum Allowable Acres
Most hemp growers, however, haven’t always reached their maximum allowable acres. In the previous year, 210 growers were given a license to grow up to 16,100 acres of hemp. However, they ended up planting more than 6,700 acres. Nevertheless, the crop gained a strong foothold when it came back in 2014 but a mere 32 acres of the crop were planted.
It was hemp’s comeback that triggered the 2014 Farm Bill. McConnell helped to push for the provision that would allow the states to conduct research and development on the plant. This has allowed for the crop to be grown for experimental purposes.
In order to cultivate and process hemp products in Kentucky, growers and business owners should acquire a license from the state’s agriculture department. License holders will be asked to undergo a background check and should give consent for inspection by the law enforcement agency or the officials from the state agriculture department where the crop is grown, processed, stored, and handled.