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Kentucky Hemp Commissioner: Hemp a Natural Fit for Healthy Foods, Auto Manufacturing

The chairman of Kentucky's Industrial Hemp Commission believes it's just a matter of time before the crop is once again legal in the U.S.

Brian Furnish says it was a major accomplishment to get an amendment regarding hemp added to the farm bill recently passed by the U.S. House. While there's no guarantee the amendment will be included in the version of the measure passed by the Senate, Furnish says he's confident public support for hemp farming is growing.

The Harrison County farmer told WKU Public Radio that hemp seeds could become a popular food ingredient in this country.

"It's high in protein, it doesn't have any cholesterol. It has omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in it. And really nobody knows about it here. They eat it all over the world, but here nobody has promoted it as a food source."

Furnish also thinks the crop is a natural fit with a major industry in our region--auto manufacturing. He says if hemp is once again legal to grow in the U.S, auto manufacturers could follow the lead of their European counterparts who use hemp to build vehicle parts.

"It's such a strong cellulose, and such a strong fiber, they're using it to make the car panels, the door panels, and the dashboards," Furnish said. "So if you get a BMW or a Mercedes out of Europe, the odds are that there's going to be some kind of hemp in it. It makes the car more durable and lighter. Plus it's environmentally friendly, because you're not using plastics."

Furnish says if hemp is legalized, American farmers would have to import seeds from Canada and Europe until a seed bank could be developed in the U.S.

Kevin is the News Director at WKU Public Radio. He has been with the station since 1999, and was previously the Assistant News Director, and also served as local host of Morning Edition.
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