industrial hemp

Liam Niemeyer I Ohio Valley ReSource

Ohio Valley farmers planted more than 27,000 acres of hemp last year — about four times more than in 2018 —  to cash in on a booming market for popular CBD products made from the crop.

Yet with that growing boom, the price of CBD-rich hemp has crashed, dropping more than 75 percent in just 6 months. Many farmers are now feeling the financial pinch of that bust.

A report from Colorado-based analytics firm PanXchange said Kentucky farmers last July on average could get $4.35 for each percent of CBD in each pound of hemp. For example, if a pound of hemp contained 6 percent CBD, then each pound of hemp could sell for about $26. Multiply that by thousands of pounds of harvested hemp, and the potential payday could be significant.


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Some Kentucky businesses that sell hemp products are still having trouble getting financial services, lawmakers were told during a legislative committee on Wednesday.

Banks are still hesitant to offer loans or credit card processing capabilities to hemp farmers, processors and retailers because of the plant’s similarities to cannabis, even though hemp was legalized by the federal government in 2018.


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The Kentucky State Fair starts on Thursday, and the presenting sponsor will be a hemp production company — a first in the fair’s 115-year history.

State Fair officials named GenCanna as the presenting sponsor in a June 4 announcement, adding that hemp has a promising future in Kentucky. The company will host a booth at the fair with free merchandise, information on partner opportunities and educational information about hemp. State Fair spokesman Ian Cox said the fair board chose GenCanna because of its work promoting Kentucky’s agriculture.

 


Kentucky’s agriculture commissioner says a legal opinion from the USDA provides much needed certainty for the hemp industry. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says hemp can be transported across state lines, even through states that haven’t passed laws allowing the crop’s production.  The legal opinion notes the 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from a federal list of controlled substances. 

Lisa Autry

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles says hemp is still facing an unfair stigma. 

Kentucky’s biggest impediment to full-scale commercialization of hemp was removed by the 2018 Farm Bill that passed Congress late last year.  The legislation de-classified the crop as a controlled substance and legalized industrial hemp.

Speaking in Bowling Green on Thursday, Quarles said hemp is being discriminated against on social media platforms, particularly Facebook, which has removed some hemp-related pages.

Andrew Marsh/Conn Center.

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles immediately applied for federal approval of Kentucky’s hemp program after the 2018 farm bill was signed into law Thursday afternoon, effectively legalizing the crop.

The farm bill removes hemp from the federal list of controlled substances, allowing farmers to grow the plant and apply for crop insurance.

Quarles issued a statement saying that he hoped the regulations would be approved swiftly.

A western Kentucky business is bringing industrial hemp to market. 

Kentucky Hemp Works has opened a processing facility in Christian County.  Owner Katie Moyer says the small, family-run business is taking hemp seed and turning it into oil that can be used in a number of products, including salves and lip balms. 

"Quite frankly, a lot of farmers aren't going to want to put seeds in the ground if they don't think there's a market for it," Moyer told WKU Public Radio.  "We need to develop those markets and show farmers and elected officials that there is a market for these things."

According to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, the state has 35 processors participating in a pilot program allowed under the federal farm bill.  Kentucky Hemp Works is the first to locate in western Kentucky.

Kentucky began growing hemp in 2014 for research purposes after a decades-long federal ban.

More than 4,000 acres of hemp seed will go into the ground in Kentucky this spring.

Growers will oversee industrial hemp pilot projects for the third straight year. They hope the crop will eventually create jobs and marketing opportunities. 

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles says the state must show the crop is viable by attracting not just farmers, but processors.

"We need to make sure we have processors who are willing to buy industrial hemp and turn it into a marketable product," Quarles told WKU Public Radio.  "If we can continue to show good faith progress on that front, it's going to make it easier to work with our federal delegation to de-couple it from its cousin one day."

Kentucky was a major hemp producer in the early 20th century, but the crop was later outlawed by the federal government because of its relation to marijuana. 

The 2014 farm bill approved by Congress gave states and universities permission to grow industrial hemp for research purposes. 

Hemp can be used in a wide range of products, including cosmetics, paper, clothing, and auto parts.

Kentucky’s new agriculture commissioner says he will pick up where his predecessor left off when it comes to industrial hemp.  Ryan Quarles was in Bowling Green Friday for the Kentucky Commodity Conference. 

Commissioner Quarles says Kentucky is re-learning a crop that has been lost through three generations.  But pilot projects have shown that hemp can grow well here.  More than 900 acres of the crop were grown in 2015.  Quarles says the state must continue to develop a market for the crop.

"Right now, Kentucky is the best positioned state in the entire country for industrial hemp and it's important that we continue to encourage processors to locate in Kenutcky," Quarles told WKU Public Radio.  "Right now we have over two dozen."

The crop can be used in a wide range of products from paper to pharmaceuticals. 

The state remains a partner with Kentucky universities to grow and research hemp.  Efforts continue in Washington to legalize full-scale hemp production.

Kentucky Department of Agriculture

The new spending bill that made its way through Congress last week contains language that forbids the federal government from getting in the way of industrial hemp pilot projects being conducted in three states, including Kentucky.

Several universities in Kentucky harvested hemp crops this year, but it came after a standoff between Kentucky and the Justice Department involving a shipment of hemp seeds from overseas.

The Courier-Journal reports Rep. Thomas Massie put the hemp-specific language in an amendment attached to the spending bill.  The commonwealth is currently accepting applications for farmers who want to plant a hemp crop in 2015.  Hemp had been banned in the country for decades.

Lisa Autry

The application window is now open for Kentucky farmers and processors who want to grow hemp for research in 2015. 

Several Kentucky universities, including WKU, grew hemp this year for the first time in decades.  The application deadline for the next round  is January 1.

The first round of pilot projects yielded a lot of data about production methods, seed varieties, and processing techniques. 

"This past year we were as far west as Murray and as far east as Bath County.  We'd like to see that continuation or even expansion on either end," said Adam Watson, Industrial Hemp Program Coordinator in the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.  "Definitely, we have different growing environments in Kentucky."

Applications are available on the Kentucky Department of Agriculture's website at www.kyagr.com/hemp.  Applicants who are selected will undergo background checks and site visits.

Test Hemp Crop Grows With Arrival of More Seeds

Jul 15, 2014

Kentucky's first experimental hemp crop has grown with the arrival of another shipment of imported seeds that immediately went into the ground.

The state's agriculture department says nearly 950 pounds of Canadian seeds cleared customs without any legal drama. An earlier shipment from Italy was detained for a time by customs officials in Louisville, setting off a legal fight between the state agency and the federal government.

Adam Watson, the agriculture department's hemp coordinator, said the Canadian seeds were planted last week. He said seeds put into the soil in late May have already sprouted into leafy plants that are six feet high or taller.

Test plots across the state will help researchers and farmers determine the crop's potential in Kentucky.

Kentucky’s burgeoning hemp industry may receive a shot in the arm later this year if the state changes a loan program for agricultural processors.

Roger Thomas is the executive director of the Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy. He says a loan program designed to cover the costs of processing other agricultural products could apply to hemp processing once state universities have determined which hemp products are best suited for Kentucky.

“If the research proves that it’s a viable crop for Kentucky farmers, then perhaps later this year the Ag Development Board might look at tweaking some guidelines to allow the County Agricultural Investment Program, the county funds, to be accessed for that purpose.”

State agriculture experts predict that the cost of creating infrastructure for a new hemp industry will affect how successful it can become.

The most recent farm bill is allowing a handful of farmers across the country to put hemp, the nonpsychoactive cousin of marijuana, in the ground.

Feds Release Hemp Seeds to Kentucky Officials

May 23, 2014
Kentucky Department of Agriculture

A 250-pound shipment of hemp seeds detained by federal officials for two weeks has been delivered to Kentucky's Agriculture Department.

The seeds that spurred a legal fight are expected to be planted in Kentucky soil in the coming days for research projects.

The seed from Italy arrived on a UPS truck Friday at the department's office in Frankfort.

Holly Harris VonLuehrte, chief of staff to state agriculture commissioner James Comer, says the seeds will be divided into batches for pilot projects around the state. Six universities are helping with the research.

The seeds were sprung from confinement after federal drug officials approved a permit Thursday, ending the standoff. The state agriculture department sued the federal government after the shipment was stopped by U.S. Customs in Louisville earlier this month.

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