The USDA approved the plan by the Kansas Department of Agriculture to change Kansas’ research-based commercial hemp program to a Commercial Industrial Hemp Program. This approval is a critical formal step in the process of establishing the new commercial hemp program.
This approval makes it possible for farmers to grow hemp without being under the umbrella of a research program. Once this program is approved by the state, farmers will not have to make formal research proposals in order to grow this non-hallucinogenic crop.
However, the program must jump through several more hurdles to change status. These include state-based rules and regulations.
“It doesn’t mean any change for the farmers right now,” said Heather Lansdowne, a spokesperson for KDA. “We’re confident that they’ll be growing commercial hemp during the next growing season (2021).”
The formal adoption process for the Commercial Industrial Hemp Program regulations is underway, as they are being reviewed by several state entities including the Division of Budget, the Department of Administration, the Attorney General and the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules and Regulations. Once the regulations are reviewed, they are subject to a public hearing.
Given the timeline of the formal adoption process, it is anticipated the Commercial Industrial Hemp Program will be finalized no earlier than fall 2020. At this time, the industrial hemp industry in Kansas continues to function under the Industrial Hemp Research Program regulations.
“This is great news for Kansas, as it moves us one step closer to establishing a commercial program for industrial hemp,” said Jeff Ochampaugh, who serves as chair of the Industrial Hemp Advisory Board in Kansas, in a release. “It’s important for Kansans to understand, though, that our program won’t be active until the regulations are adopted.”