Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program Overview
The Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) is conducting an Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program as authorized by KRS 260.850-260.869, and 7 U.S.C.§ 5940 (also known as Section 7606 of the 2014 Farm Bill). Industrial hemp plants, leaf, floral materials, and viable seed materials remain a Schedule I Controlled Substance under state and federal law; no person can grow, handle, broker, or process industrial hemp in Kentucky without a license issued by the KDA. For more information on applications, please visit the Applications for the Hemp Program page.
Industrial Hemp requires a KDA License to Grow, Handle, Process, or Market
Individuals and businesses who would like to be considered for a license to grow, handle, process, or market hemp must submit the appropriate license application to KDA Hemp Program, 111 Corporate Drive, Frankfort, KY 40601 prior to the established deadlines. For more information on applications, please visit the Applications for the Hemp Program page.
KDA has made available a complete list of current license holders by name and county, including growers, processors/handlers, and university affiliates. This list is located on this page in the right sidebar under the heading “Forms & Documents” (mobile devices scroll down).
Please note, in the document the name listed in the “License Holder” column is the name in which the license is issued, either by individual or by company. The listed county is the Kentucky county where sites are licensed to grow or process industrial hemp, and you may see multiple listings for a License Holder if they are operating in multiple counties.
Kentucky licensed processors, handlers, and brokers are given the option to make their contact information available on our Processor/Handler List. Some License Holders have also voluntarily provided their contact information for the purpose of selling hemp seeds and transplants to other license holders on the KDA Seed and Transplant Providers List. Current lists are located on this page in the right sidebar under the heading “Forms & Documents” (mobile devices scroll down).
Goals and Growth of the Research Program
“My strategic objective,” states Commissioner Ryan Quarles “is to position the Commonwealth’s growers and processors to ultimately prevail as national leaders in industrial hemp production.”
There is intense interest and enthusiasm across the Commonwealth for this historic crop. The Department seeks to build a body of knowledge on hemp agronomics that will lay a solid foundation for a thriving industry should hemp be removed from the federal government’s list of controlled substances.
Kentucky farmers seeking an agricultural crop for inclusion in crop rotation plans or as a replacement crop may find that industrial hemp is a viable option. Market prices for fiber and grain are quickly stabilizing, but prices for floral material have a wide variation.
To date, more than 70 processors/handlers have obtained licenses in the KDA pilot program. Processors have been working hard since 2014 to develop infrastructure with sufficient capacity to process hemp grown by farmers all across the region. The 2017 Processor Production Reports revealed that licensed hemp processors paid Kentucky growers $7.5 million last year and the creation of 81 new full-time jobs. The licensed processors also reported capital investments of $25.6 million and gross product sales of $16.7 million for 2017.
Kentucky’s program has experienced tremendous growth in just a few short years. In the first year of the program, farmers planted 33 acres and succeeded with a modest harvest. In 2015, over 900 acres were planted and about 500 were successfully harvested. In 2016 we had reports of over 2,300 acres planted and about 2,000 acres harvested. The 2017 growing season saw another increase in hemp acreage in Kentucky with more than 3,200 acres planted.
See the most recent Hemp Production Report Summary on this page in the right sidebar under the heading “Forms & Documents” (mobile devices scroll down). KDA is currently aggregating the data from the 2017 Grower and Processor Production Reports and will be releasing that information soon.
Sign-up to Receive Updates
Persons interested in Kentucky's Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program and not already on the email notification list may send an email Hemp@ky.gov with your name and contact information to receive periodic updates. Notifications will include announcements for industrial hemp field days, conferences, application releases, etc.
If you have visited all of KDA’s hemp pages and still have questions about out program, please send inquiries to Hemp@ky.gov.