WASHINGTON- The ink was barely even dry on President Donald Trump's signature when Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles submitted Kentucky's state hemp plan to the United States Department of Agriculture. 

Commissioner Quarles was at the signing ceremony for the bill, and hand delivered the plan to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue--making Kentucky the first state in the nation to apply for approval of the federal hemp program. 

“Kentucky’s regulatory framework perfectly aligns with the requirements spelled out in the farm bill,” Commissioner Quarles said in a release. “Hemp growers, processors, and manufacturers deserve swift action so they can proceed with confidence. Kentucky has led the charge on industrial hemp with bipartisan support for the past five years. Now we are eager to take the next step toward solidifying Kentucky’s position as the epicenter of industrial hemp production and processing in the United States.”

The 2018 Farm Bill signed Thursday, legalizes industrial hemp across the nation, and allows states to regulate the new crop. It also establishes minimum requirements that a state regulatory framework must meet to be approved by the USDA. 

In order to grow and process hemp in Kentucky, individuals or businesses must be licensed by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. KDA has received more than 1,000 applications to participate in the state's industrial hemp research pilot program in 2019. 

In 2018, licensed processors paid Kentucky growers $7.5 million for harvested hemp in 2017 an reported $25.6 million in capital improvements and investments and $16.7 million in gross product sales.