Hemp farming applications soar in U.S. state of Kentucky

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More than 50,000 acres (20,234 ha) have been approved for Kentucky hemp fields in 2019, as the state’s hemp farmers get moving in the new Farm Bill era. More than 1,000 Kentucky farmers received licenses to grow hemp this year, state officials said.

Two-hundred Kentucky farmers grew hemp on 6,700 (2,100 ha) acres in 2018, (up from 5,200 in 2017) and reported solid financial results up and down the value chain, Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles reported in a release last week.

Sales in big upswing

Kentucky hemp processors made $57.75 million in sales in 2018, soaring from $16.7 million in 2017, with processors outlaying $23.4 million in capital improvements, according to state figures. Kentucky hemp operations employed a total of 459 workers last year, the state said.

“We are building the critical mass of growers, processors and researchers that will ensure the hemp industry’s success in Kentucky for years to come,” Quarles said.

Kentucky officials also reported approval of 110 hemp processor/handler license applications so far this year, and approved more than 6 million sq ft of greenhouse space for hemp growing.

No. 3 in nation

Kentucky’s 6,700 acres last year made it the third biggest hemp growing state in the USA behind Montana (22,000 acres) and Colorado (21,500).

The federal Farm Bill, which came into law at the end of last year, removed hemp from the list of federally controlled substances, effectively making hemp legal to grow like any other agricultural crop.

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