Tuesday afternoon, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced certain industrial hemp growers will be able to obtain insurance coverage under the Whole-Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP) program for crop year 2020.
“This is an important step toward reviving the hemp industry in the United States,” Commissioner Ryan Quarles said. “We are grateful to the Risk Management Agency (RMA) and Administrator (Martin) Barbre for providing this opportunity for hemp growers to protect their investment.”
Hemp grown for fiber, flower or seeds can be covered by insurance and are available to producers who are in areas covered by USDA-approved hemp plans or who are part of approved state or university research pilot programs.
“Numerous producers are anxious for a way to protect their hemp crops from natural disasters,” Barbre said in the press release. “The WFRP policy will provide a safety net for them. We expect to be able to offer additional hemp coverage options as USDA continues implementing the 2018 Farm Bill.”
Producers can obtain WFRP coverage for hemp now if they are part of a Section 7606 state or university research pilot as authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. Other producers cannot obtain coverage until a USDA-approved plan is in place.
“If hemp is being treated just like every other agricultural commodity, then it should be allowed access to all federal farm programs just like every other agricultural commodity,” Sean Southard, communications director for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, said.
Earlier this year, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Quarles hosted USDA Under Secretary Greg Ibach and Barbre for a conversation with Kentucky hemp farmers, processors and researchers. During that time, whole-farm crop insurance emerged as one of the ways that USDA could help reduce risk to growers while the agency continued to conduct the research necessary to develop a traditional crop insurance product.
“No one person deserves credit for helping bring this crop back from the dead; it has been a Kentucky effort,” Quarles said in the release. “I’m honored to have worked over the years with leader McConnell, our entire congressional delegation, the Kentucky General Assembly, law enforcement professionals, our hard-working Kentucky Department of Agriculture staff and many others to help revive this crop. I look forward to us all continuing to work together to make Kentucky the hemp epicenter of the United States.”
In 2019, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture licensed 978 growers to cultivate more than 60,000 acres of hemp.
In Madison County, six growers were licensed by the USDA to cultivate hemp for the 2019 season.
According to Brandon Sears, an extension agent with the Madison County Extension Office, he believes that those approved to produce hemp within the county are doing so for CBD oil production, which would not be covered under the insurance requirements.
Reach Taylor Six at 624-6623 or follow her on Twitter @TaylorSixRR.