A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Overhyped hemp? Amid major price drop, and a big bankruptcy, Kentucky hemp farmers feel burned

By Liam Niemeyer Ohio Valley Resource John Fuller is waiting for another farmer he’s never met before to talk about a situation he never imagined he would be in. It’s an overcast January day on his farm in west Kentucky, where he grew 18 acres of hemp last year, investing more than $250,000 of his own cash. He’s one of nearly 1,000 licensed hemp growers in 2019 who helped grow Kentucky’s biggest...

UK agricultural economists remind producers to consider all scenarios before growing hemp

By Katie Pratt University of Kentucky As much uncertainty continues to swirl around the hemp industry, University of Kentucky agricultural economists remind producers to consider their personal risk tolerance, business contracts and all possible production scenarios before committing to grow hemp. “This is still a developing industry that has long-term viability but is going through significant growing...

Hemp application period underway, deadline for growers is March 15; summit Dec. 4 in Louisville

The window to apply for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s 2020 hemp licensing program is now open, Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles announced. “Kentucky’s hemp industry had a banner year in 2019 with nearly 1,000 growers and an influx of processors,” Commissioner Quarles said. “We expect that momentum to continue in 2020, and we look forward to seeing more farmers apply to grow...

Pew Trusts: Many farmers struggle as hemp harvest winds down and markets suffer growing pains

By Sophie Quinton and April Simpson Pew Charitable Trusts Ajit Singh strode across his 16-acre hemp field toward a broken-down harvester. He’d been hoping all day that the mechanic now crouched beside the machine could get it back up and running. It was late October and Singh still had thousands of stinky green and purple cannabis plants across 425 acres to pick, dry and sell before winter. Like...

Rural Blog: Department of Agriculture publishes rules allowing widespread production of hemp

The Department of Agriculture has published a final rule allowing farmers to legally begin widespread hemp production. It has “requirements for licensing, maintaining records on the land where hemp will be grown, testing the levels of THC — the active ingredient in marijuana that causes a high — and disposing of plants” that could, David Pitt reports for The Associated Press. The rule...

Pew Trusts: Many first-time growers still don’t have buyers, but keep dreaming big with risky hemp crops

By April Simpson and Sophie Quinton Pew Charitable Trusts Standing between two rows of thigh-high hemp crops close to the Tennessee-Kentucky border, the retired owner of a New Hampshire convenience store cheerfully recalled why he chose to grow his first hemp crop this year. Barry Paterno, 67, is a gardener, not a farmer — he likes to grow tomatoes and corn. But he saw on the local TV news that an...

Kentucky’s growing hemp industry to get new storage, testing facility in Cynthiana later this year

A leader in Kentucky’s burgeoning hemp industry is making plans to open a hemp growers’ service center near Cynthiana later this year. Brian Furnish, an eighth-generation tobacco farmer turned hemp grower believes hemp as a farm commodity is ready for an independent storage and marketing facility similar to those long used in the livestock, tobacco and grain industries. “Right now, hemp producers...

ColorPoint converts 1.8 million sq. ft. greenhouse to hemp production, to merge with AgTech Scientific

ColorPoint has transitioned to become a hemp only company and has merged operations with AgTech Scientific of Paris. The fully vertically integrated hemp company will immediately become a leader of outdoor and indoor grown quality hemp products. The operations have been granted both a Hemp Grower License and Hemp Processor License from the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.
 1,837,847 sq. ft. Greenhouse...

U.S. Department of Agriculture legal opinion says hemp can be moved across state lines

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today The U.S. Department of Agriculture has published a legal opinion stating hemp can be transported across state lines, an action saluted by Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles. “The policy announcement from the United States Department of Agriculture confirms what Kentucky has been saying all along,” Quarles said. “The 2018 Farm Bill made hemp legal nationwide,...

Rural Blog: Hemp boom has arrived, but economists advise farmers, investors to act with caution

The hemp boom has arrived with legalization under the new Farm Bill, especially with the new market for cannabidiol (CBD) preparations, but annual growth is likely to remain stable, and production may be concentrated “in relatively few states where hemp can be grown at the lowest cost of production and transported shorter distances for processing,” write University of Kentucky agricultural...

Ballard County hemp processor AerosourceH plans $2.8 million expansion after first year in business

As Kentucky’s hemp industry forges ahead, industrial hemp processor AerosourceH LLC has announced a $2.8-million expansion at the company’s Ballard County facility, a move expected to create 14 full-time jobs. The company, which produces cannabidiol (CBD) isolate and water-soluble nano emulsified CBD for the wholesale market, held an open house today to introduce itself to the community and celebrate...

Pew Trusts: Kentucky leading the way as Farmer’s hope for riches from legalized hemp, despite risks

By April Simpson Pew Charitable Trusts Michael Calebs begins feeling nostalgic standing in the airy barn on his rolling, 400-acre farm. He recalls the hard labor of his youth: climbing up to horizontal beams to hang floppy tobacco leaves to air cure so the leaves could develop a sweet taste. Calebs places a small amount of Kodiak snuff between his cheek and gum on a recent afternoon while walking about...

Agriculture commissioner applauds national organization’s adoption of new policies on hemp

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles on Tuesday applauded a national organization of government agriculture officials for adopting a new hemp policy that recognizes its economic potential and encourages uniformity in regulation. Commissioner Quarles authored the policy based on Kentucky’s existing hemp regulatory framework. The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA)...

Ag Tech Scientific breaking ground on new facility to develop, manufacture heap products in Paris

AgTech Scientific will break ground today on a new facility to develop and manufacture hemp-based products in Paris. The facility is part of AgTech’s plan to work with Kentucky farmers to grow hemp and to partner with the University of Kentucky on research. The ceremony will take place in Paris, where AgTech is building a 50,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art structure on a 10-acre site in the Bourbon...

Pew Trusts: With Congress on the brink of fully legalizing hemp, legal challenges still remain

By Sophie Quinton Pew Trusts It’s a giddy time for the U.S. hemp industry. Farmers are planting more acres. Businesses are selling more products. And with Congress on the brink of fully legalizing hemp, industry insiders are eagerly anticipating a boom. But even if the legalization provisions in the 2018 farm bill pass, hemp will remain a tightly regulated crop facing plenty of regulatory and legal...

Rep. James Comer, KACo President-elect Elbert Bennett talk impact of national legislation on Ky.

U.S. Rep. James Comer, R-KY, visited the Kentucky Association of Counties (KACo) this week, to discuss national legislation and how it could impact Kentucky’s counties. One of his constituents and KACo’s next president, Caldwell County Magistrate Elbert Bennett spoke with the congressman about the federal Farm Bill’s local impact, how hemp is creating opportunities in the state and...

Sec. Quarles: As we celebrate Hemp History Week; let’s help Kentucky make its own mark

This week Americans celebrate Hemp History Week. Here in Kentucky, we know industrial hemp is a crop that connects our past to our future. A quick survey of the crop’s history proves it is time for us to make our own mark on hemp history and allow it to flourish. Quarles The history of the United States is entwined with hemp’s history. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson are believed to have...

Four state historic sites plant hemp crops in preparation for National Hemp History Week

Four Kentucky Historic Sites will plant hemp crops as part of the Kentucky Hemp Pilot Program this week in preparation for National Hemp History Week in June. The hemp plots will be showcased during a special event series, “Discover the Hemplands,” taking place June 5th through June 10th, and will be featured as part of the Heritage Hemp Trail. Each site has ties to the antebellum Kentucky hemp...

Dept. of Agriculture accepting applications for 2018 hemp program, seeks public input on regulations

Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles has announced that the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) has opened the application period for Kentuckians wishing to participate in the state’s industrial hemp research pilot program for the 2018 growing season. “I am proud to report that our program participants grew more than 3,200 acres of hemp this year, the most ever under the industrial hemp research...

UK scientists outline hemp research needs with focus on improving yields, economic viability

By Katie Pratt Special to KyForward With hemp’s reintroduction into the United States as a part of research pilot programs in 2014, scientists need to learn much about the crop to help farmers improve yields to make it sustainable and economically viable. In a recent article published in the journal Trends in Plant Science, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment scientists...