Ky. Agriculture Department finalizes deal with federal government on hemp seeds, pilot projects continue to spring up

08/18/2014 11:01 AM

As the Kentucky Department of Agriculture finally settles their disagreement with the federal government over the importing of hemp seeds, Agriculture Commissioner James Comer says the crop will continue to be in high demand across the state.

After suing the federal government over a shipment of hemp seeds being held by the DEA in May, Comer announced Friday that the Department of Agriculture reached a deal with the federal government and a motion has been filed to dismiss the lawsuit.

The agreement says that the department will file an application for a permit to import the hemp seeds and the federal government will process the application “in an expeditious manner.”

Since the shipment of hemp seeds was released in late May, the department distributed the seeds to the universities and private farmers conducting pilot projects with the crop.

While at an event last week, Comer told Pure Politics that the seeds are in high demand and that he does not expect the requests to slow down any time soon.

“Hopefully next year the crop will be deregulated and anyone who wants to grow it can grow it, you won’t have to get a license in the department, that’s my hope and wish but I don’t know if that will happen,” Comer said.

As for how the crop becomes deregulated, Comer said that will have to come from the federal government. Comer said once the crops come in and all the reports are written and filed with the department, Kentucky Congressman Thomas Massie, R-Vanceburg, will take the lead on legislation in the House and he plans to testify in front of committee in Washington to get the crop deregulated, something he said Kentucky U.S. Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul are supportive of.

“It’s something that is in high demand all across the United States so for once we are a leader in Kentucky,” Comer said.

Last week, Growing Warriors —a group that trains and assists veteran families with the tools they need to grow and get their products to market —announced a new partnership its Homegrown by Heroes Industrial Hemp Pilot Project has made with two companies to grow the crop.

The nonprofit agriculture program is partnering with Patagonia and Fibershed for the research of American-grown hemp fiber textiles. Currently, hemp is used to make clothing in other countries where the crop is legal to grow.

Since Kentucky passed legislation to grow hemp, it was an easy answer for clothing line Patagonia to conduct pilot projects on the crop as they look for a sustainable domestic fiber supply.

“Here in Kentucky, we are trying to determine so many different things with hemp that is crucial to have specified research like this done,” Kentucky Hemp Industries Association President Josh Hendrix said in a statement about the partnership. “Having organizations like Patagonia and Fibershed involved in research for American-grown and produced organic hemp textiles is very exciting for the state and any farmer who is looking at hemp in their future.”

Comer also expressed excitement about the partnership in the release, saying that the move “proves what I have always known: processors and manufacturers are demanding a domestic source of hemp.”


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