Hemp processing in U.S. state of Kentucky sees flurry of investment

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Investment in 16 hemp processing operations in the U.S. state of Kentucky represent a $94 million total investment expected to create more than 900 full-time jobs, state officials recently announced. 

That’s after 110 hemp processor/handler license applications were approved for 2019. 

More than 1,000 Kentucky farmers received hemp farming licenses this year, with more than 50,000 acres (20,234 ha) having gone under hemp after passage of the U.S. Farm Bill. Kentucky’s mere 6,700 acres in 2018 made it the third biggest hemp growing state in the USA behind Montana (22,000 acres) and Colorado (21,500).

U.S. hemp ‘epicenter’

Officials in Kentucky have said their goal is to make the declined tobacco state the epicenter of industrial hemp in the USA. 

The latest investment in Kentucky hemp processing is by Resonate Foods LLC, a Lyon County-based hemp grower and processor that is putting $2.7 million into an expansion expected to create 16 full-time jobs.

Resonate currently operates a 15-acre processing site. The expansion’s first phase would include greenhouses, drying buildings and equipment. Plans include development of a state-of-the-art craft processing lab to extract, distill and refine hemp into wholesale and retail products at scale.

Contracting grows

Resonate said it “significantly increased” its production contracts with Kentucky farmers this year including some USDA organic acreage. That will also mean creation of some seasonal jobs in drying operations, the company said.

Based in Eddyville, Kentucky, Resonate makes a range of food and pharmaceutical-grade hemp-based products sold to customers throughout the U.S. The company sells finished hemp products at retail, and raw materials and extracts at wholesale.

Invest Kentucky

Among other notable recent hemp investments in Kentucky:

  • Atalo Holdings Inc. and GenCanna Global partnered to align the two companies’ cultivation operations with an investment from GenCanna. The partnership created the largest vertically integrated hemp-derived CBD production, processing and distribution alliance in Kentucky. Atalo is a vertically integrated hemp producer with interests in technology, crop science, agronomics, and harvesting and processing techniques. GenCanna is a CBD producer. The two operate a 147-acre Hemp Research Campus in Winchester, Kentucky, home to both operations and where 100 workers are employed.
  • GenCanna is also building a $40 million facility in Mayfield, Kentucky that will be used for storing, drying and CBD extraction and employ 80 workers.
  • International Farmaceutical Extracts, which specializes in CBD oil extraction and distillation, plans a $6 million manufacturing plant in Boyle County that would create up to 34 full-time jobs over a 10-year period.
  • ColorPoint, a Paris, Kentucky-based greenhouse operation, plans to convert its 1.8 million-square-foot Kentucky facility into a vertically integrated site for the production of hemp and CBD products after merging with hemp producer AgTech Scientific. The two have said they will open an extraction and manufacturing facility this month.

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