Kentucky has the nation’s largest industrial hemp pilot project, and a new processing plant, which uses hemp and other agricultural feedstocks, is slated to open in Louisville to meet growing demand.
“This new facility significantly expands Sunstrand’s capacity to meet growing demand for its products,” said Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the facility May 27. “Ramping up Kentucky’s industrial hemp processing capacity will increase our competitive advantages as we work together to position the Commonwealth as the national leader in this promising industry.”
Sunstrand moved its Kentucky headquarters to the 25,000-square-foot facility from its original 6,000-square-foot plant earlier this year.
The Kentucky Department of Agriculture administers Kentucky’s industrial hemp research project program under the authority of a provision of the 2014 federal Farm Bill, 7 U.S.C. § 5940, that permits industrial hemp pilot programs by state departments of agriculture.
In January, the KDA approved 209 applications from growers to cultivate up to 12,800 acres of industrial hemp for research purposes in 2017, nearly triple the number of acres that were approved for the previous year and the largest state industrial hemp research project program in the nation. The department also approved more than 525,000 square feet of greenhouse space for indoor growers and 11 new applications from processors in addition to 29 previously approved multi-year processor applications that were not required to reapply.