Industrial Hemp thriving in Kentucky

06/28/2018 01:58 PM

FRANKFORT- The Industrial Hemp Industry in Kentucky is growing at a steady pace, but could thrive if the US Senate version of the Farm Bill is passed.

Members from the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, hemp processors and farmers testified in front of Budget Review Subcommittee on General Government, Finance, Personnel, and Public Retirement Thursday morning.

Since a pilot program legalizing industrial hemp production in 2014, the program has grown to create millions in profits for Kentucky farmers. The most recent figures from 2017 show hemp growers were paid $7.5 million, and $25.6 million in capital investments have been made. Additionally, 81 full-time jobs were created with hemp netting $16.7 million in gross product sales.

Joe Bilby, General Counsel for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, says the future of the hemp industry in Kentucky and the country is the passage of the farm bill.

“The Kentucky General Assembly has done it’s part to clarify the rules of the roads and to sweep aside ambiguities and vagueness that has really been an hindrance for market participants and now its time for the federal government to do its part to provide that same sort of clarity.” he said.

Chad Rosen, a hemp processor who runs Victory Hemp, says hemp is increasingly becoming a product people are using to substitute traditional food products.

“There is a once in a multi generational shift that’s happening in the way people eat, and hemp seeds present the physiological characteristic to be a key ingredient in that shift,” he told the committee.

Former tobacco farmers are also beginning to make a profit off of producing hemp. Brian Furnish, a farmer from Cynthia, grows about 75 acres of hemp currently, he says the profit margin of hemp is higher than that of tobacco.

“My cost and my inputs and my revenue for an average tobacco crop, I can net about $2598 an acre. I’ve grown hemp for floral method for the last three years, and I’m averaging $4308 an acre, so it’s a tremendous increase above where we’ve been.” said Furnish.

If the farm bill passes Congress, hemp would no longer be considered a controlled substance, allowing more of an opportunity for farmers to cash in on the opportunity.

Michon Lindstrom

Michon is a producer for Pure Politics. Michon comes to Kentucky from Springfield, Illinois where she served as the statehouse reporter for the NBC affiliate. During her time in the Land of Lincoln she covered the state’s two year budget impasse and the largest school funding overall in Illinois history. Pure Politics airs weeknights at 7 and 11:30 on Spectrum News. Follow Michon on Twitter at @MichonLindstrom or reach her by email at


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