West Kentucky farmers cautiously considering hemp

GRAVES COUNTY, KY – Farmers across west Kentucky are currently planning for their 2019 crops. Jed Clark has made his living growing soybeans, wheat, and corn. Now that hemp is legal, he’s looking to add it to his operation.

“It’s something new to our area,” says Clark. He isn’t jumping into the hemp industry right away though. “We’re looking into it, but we’re using caution when we’re looking into it,” Clark says.

Clark says it could cost a lot of money for new equipment and workers to produce hemp, a risk for a crop that he has never produced.

“You just wonder how quick the supply chain is going to be filled, you know? We’re importing CBD oil now, and so you look at the amount that is used versus the amount we have,” says Clark.

Clark says one of the different things about hemp is how it is harvested. The harvesting equipment farmers use for soybeans and corn probably won’t work for hemp. They might even have to harvest it by hand. With soybean and corn prices unstable, though, hemp could be a good alternative for farmers looking for a new crop.

Samantha Anderson with the Graves County UK Extension office says she fully expects producers to turn to hemp. “Not to say that hemp will replace a traditional row crop income, but it very well could for some people add a viable diversification to their operation,” she says.

Clark says, despite the risk, there is a lot of excitement for hemp.

“I think with any new industry, you’re going to have a newfound optimism and the unknowns,” says Clark.

The Kentucky agriculture commissioners will be giving an update to state legislators on the hemp pilot program.

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