Tag Archives: Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles

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

Kentucky ramps up hemp test production in 2016

Bruce Schreiner, The Associated Press 12:48 p.m. EDT March 20, 2016

Kentucky is accelerating hemp production in the third year of testing its potential as a cash crop.

The state Department of Agriculture said Friday it has authorized planting of nearly 4,500 acres of hemp this year in the next round of statewide pilot projects, up from about 900 acres of hemp production last year. The experimental projects began with a mere 33 acres in 2014.

The momentum is continuing after a change in leadership at the Agriculture Department.

The rebirth of legal hemp production was championed by then-state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer. Comer ran for governor last year, losing in the Republican primary to Matt Bevin. But his successor as agriculture commissioner, Ryan Quarles, has assumed the role of advocating for hemp.

“Hemp is a bridge from Kentucky’s past to our future,” said Quarles, a Republican. “The Kentucky Department of Agriculture and our partners are committed to building upon the solid foundation of research for a Kentucky hemp industry that will create jobs and new marketing opportunities.”

Kentucky has been at the forefront nationally in efforts to return hemp to mainstream status.

The tiny experimental crop produced in 2014 was the first legal hemp crop in generations in Kentucky.

Growing hemp without a federal permit was banned in 1970 due to its classification as a controlled substance related to marijuana. Hemp and marijuana are the same species, Cannabis sativa, but hemp has a negligible amount of THC, the psychoactive compound that gives marijuana users a high.

Hemp got a limited reprieve with the federal farm bill, which allows state agriculture departments to designate hemp projects for research and development in states such as Kentucky that allow hemp growing.

Hemp is prized for its oils, seeds and fiber.

The crop, which once thrived in Kentucky, was historically used for rope but has many other uses, including clothing and mulch from the fiber; hemp milk and cooking oil from the seeds; and soap and lotions. Other uses include building materials, animal bedding and biofuels.

In Kentucky, the number of university-led hemp research projects had more than doubled since 2015, the state Agriculture Department said. The focus is expanding beyond production research to look into how the crop can be turned into consumer products.

KDA said it is offering multi-year partnerships with processors to develop information on processing and marketing potential.

Quarles also said his department is working to ensure that hemp producers can obtain seeds.

Kentucky farmer Michael Lewis said he’s preparing for another year of hemp production to test its potential in textiles, health and nutrition products.

“That shows the potential, that shows the interest, that shows the investment,” he said of the plans for increased production in 2016. “I think we’re getting there. We still have a lot of processing hurdles to overcome. But that’s the same with any new industry. I’m feeling good about it.”

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Legislation to legalize recreational and medicinal marijuana is unlikely to be addressed during this legislative session in Kentucky

 

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Legislation to legalize recreational and medicinal marijuana is unlikely to be addressed during this legislative session in Kentucky.

That’s according to the committee’s chairman who’s handling the proposal. So what about the state’s hemp pilot program?

Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles was in Owensboro Wednesday. He says he expects 200 farmers to plant more than 4,000 acres this year.

That’s 4 times as much as in 2015.
Former Agriculture Commissioner James Comer started the program last year.  Quarles says officials are encouraging more local companies to use hemp grown in the Commonwealth –

“There are car manufacturers in Kentucky who use plant products similar to industrial hemp, but we’re hoping to pitch them on the idea of using Kentucky grown industrial hemp, not just for the manufacturing industry, but also other manufacturers across the state as well.”

More than 100 farmers participated last year and twice as many are expected this year.  Kentucky is one of several states with a hemp pilot program.

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