Hemp group in U.S. state of Kentucky says it will go independent

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Stakeholders in the U.S. state of Kentucky say they will launch a re-branded, independent hemp organization after a falling out with the national Hemp Industries Association (HIA).

The announcement is the latest development after the national HIA earlier this year voted to shutter the Kentucky Hemp Industries Association (KYHIA) and 12 other state chapters as a result of financial troubles.

“After talks broke down with the HIA’s leadership over misuse of funds, unpaid dues that the national HIA owed to the state chapters, and disputes over the amount of dues owed, the decision was made by the KYHIA Board of Directors to consult with other Kentucky hemp organizations and create a new state-focused organization,” the group said in a press release.

First to transition

The Kentucky group is the first among the 13 former HIA state chapters to announce it will transition to an independent organization, but other state groups have said they are exploring that option or joining with existing groups in their states.

Kentucky HIA has about 300 members, making it one of the biggest state chapters among 13 that made up the now shuttered network, which national HIA at one point said had reached 1,500 individual members. The state is one of the top five hemp producers in the USA, and has been a national showcase for the resurgent industry.

Kentucky’s split from the national HIA organization became final recently when the board of KYHIA voted unanimously to reject a proposed agreement under which HIA is presumably trying to restructure its relationships with former state chapter representatives. National HIA immediately shut down the KYHIA website after the vote.

Unanimous support

“We are excited to move forward with rebranding under a new name, and could not be more thrilled to do it with unanimous support from our board,” said Tate Hall, who had served as KYHIA President. “We look forward to this new endeavor and are dedicated to continuing our efforts to serve our members and the Kentucky hemp industry.”

Added KYHIA Vice President, Jana Groda: “After months of fruitless negotiations, we’re excited to be free to forge our own path and continue to pursue the goal of re-establishing Kentucky as the national leader in the hemp industry.”

Working out details

The new name of the organization will be announced once talks with other hemp associations and supporters are concluded this month and the group’s board approves new bylaws and other documents, according to the release.

The reconstituted Kentucky organization will operate under the 501(c)(6) membership-based non-profit trade association structure that formed the basis of the KYHIA. Members include hemp researchers, farmers, processors, product developers, manufacturers, distributors, marketers, advocates, educators and other industry stakeholders.

Leaders of the 13 HIA state chapters that were liquidated by national HIA have said they are exploring legal options over the shutdown and the money some states say they are owed by national HIA.

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