Ag Commissioner Comer talks Kentucky hemp

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Reporter - Elizabeth Fields
Photojournalist - Randall Barnes
Web Editor - Mason Stevenson

MCCRACKEN COUNTY, Ky. - We know hemp was grown in Kentucky before.  We know hemp could grow here again.  What we don't know is if anyone could make a living doing it now.

"As far as the profitability question, that's very difficult to answer.  And until it's grown in Kentucky, it will be hard to determine how much you can make per acre and what the yield would be," Kentucky Ag Commissioner James Comer told Local 6.

He is confident that there are farmers in the Commonwealth ready to try and when they do, there will be processors ready to take the harvest off their hands.

Two companies have committed to transforming their facilities.  Those are primarily based in central and eastern Kentucky.  Although, local farmers shouldn't be scared of shipping.

Comer says at least one farmer in western Kentucky has expressed interest in growing the crop.

Another thing Comer can't predict is how many jobs would pop up along with hemp fields.

"It's probably a brighter prospect in central Kentucky and eastern Kentucky than it is in western Kentucky, but there is still a lot of interest in western Kentucky just because of the fact the land is so productive over there," Comer said.

Because it's so hard to determine the profit margins on new crops, it's very difficult to find anyone who's ready to be one of the first hemp farmers in our area.

UK Extension agents in both McCracken and Calloway Counties told Local 6 they've had one or two people each call them and say they are interested.  It's just no one's ready to fully commit, especially since the federal laws are still standing in their way.

Comer said once Governor Steve Beshear signs the bill into law, he will head to Washington, D.C. to try and get Kentucky a waiver to grow the crop.

If that happens soon, hemp will be ready to place in the 2014 growing season.

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