Kentucky Seeking Hemp Farmers for 2015

Kentucky is now accepting applications from local farmers who want to grow industrial hemp in 2015 as part of a pilot program started this year.

The state’s agriculture department on Wednesday notified interested parties that applications are due by Jan. 1, and officials will make final decisions by the end of that month, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Winning applicants will undergo background checks and must submit to site visits, according to the report.

Earlier this year, Kentucky – once one of largest growers of commercial hemp in the United States – harvested its first hemp crop since WWII under a research program approved by the federal government.

The move was facilitated by changes ushered in by the U.S. Farm Bill, which was signed in February by President Barack Obama, and Kentucky Senate Bill 50. The state joins nine others in moving ahead with pilot programs for hemp and at least a half dozen other states are exploring their own programs.

In the U.S., retail sales of hemp-based products total an estimated $500 million annually, according to one study from the Congressional Research Service.