Monday, November 02, 2015

Now that legal hemp crops have been grown in Kentucky, state looks for ways to grow industry

Now that the nation's first legal hemp crops since 1970 have been grown in Kentucky, the next step is to find ways to grow the industry, Janet Patton reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Agriculture Commissioner James Comer told Patton, "We've proven first of all that it's not a drug, which was very important for the opposition to realize. And we've proven it's economically viable, or there wouldn't be 22 companies that have made an investment in the state. . . . What we're doing now is working with the companies that want to go to the next step to commercialize the product." (Herald-Leader photo by Charles Bertram: Harvesting hemp crops in Winchester, Ky.)

GenCanna, which moved from Canada to Kentucky to be in the heart of the hemp revolution, has 100 acres in Winchester in Central Kentucky, Patton writes. The Shell Farm and Greenhouses in Lancaster, also in Central Kentucky, "is turning its fields away from tobacco, growing 157,000 hemp plants on 40 acres outdoors and 3,500 plants in a greenhouse." While Shell plans to increase its acres next year, other companies are getting in on what some predict could become a billion-dollar industry.

Comer told Patton, "We get requests every day for companies that want to start processing hemp. I worry that some may not have the credibility of some of the others, and that's why it's taking longer to certify, to get more background info. We're not picking winners and losers but those that have credibility. Our reputations are on the line here, too." (Read more)

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