On Tuesday, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue visited Kentucky for his first up-close look at the Commonwealth’s hemp industry. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles hosted Secretary Perdue on a tour of a processor and a research farm.
The tour began in Louisville at Commonwealth Extracts, which manufactures a variety of products from cannabidiol (CBD) derived from hemp. Afterwards, Secretary Perdue headed to Lexington to see hemp in the ground at Spindletop Farm, the research farm of the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. In between, lunch was served at the new Bulleit Bourbon visitors’ center in Shelbyville, where Secretary Perdue addressed Kentucky Farm Bureau members and agriculture leaders.
Hemp has been around Kentucky since the first recorded crop was found outside of Danville in 1775. In 1995, people began to see this controversial crop as the key to Kentucky’s agricultural future.
Kentucky became the first state to file its hemp regulatory plan for approval by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) when Commissioner Quarles submitted Kentucky’s plan to Secretary Perdue moments after the 2018 farm bill was signed into law in December.
When asked earlier this year to contribute an essay to our “What Lexington Needs”, Councilmember-at-Large Richard Moloney said hemp is one of the four things he is most passionate about for Lexington.
“Hemp production is our future for agriculture. We can be a leader not just in Kentucky, but in the United States. Kentucky soils and climate are the best for growing and Lexington is the perfect place to become the headquarters for everything hemp.”
The Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) has approved more than 58,000 acres for hemp cultivation in 2019. Hemp applications were approved for a record 101 Kentucky counties. The KDA also approved more than 6 million square feet of greenhouse space for hemp cultivation. The amount approved is a sizable jump from the 33 acres grown in 2014, the first growing year.
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