MAYFIELD, KY — GenCanna's Mayfield, Kentucky, plant will not fully open until 2020 for the fall harvest. A spokesperson with the company told the Mayfield Messenger reports that "work is slowing down for now."
The Kentucky Department of Agriculture says it is "actively monitoring the situation with their hemp team, and senior staff have been in communication with GenCanna." The confirmation came Wednesday after days of phone calls and emails to the Office of Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles.
On Aug. 30, the Mayfield Messenger reported an acknowledgement from GenCanna that a number of contractors working on the $40-million facility had unresolved payment issues. GenCanna declined to answer our questions, and so did contractors we contacted. The contractors say they signed nondisclosure agreements to work on the project. Graves County Economic Development President Ryan Drane wouldn't discuss the situation either. He also cited a signed confidentiality agreement. When we visited the plant site on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, we saw little activity. GenCanna referred us to a public relations company in Louisville, which didn't answer our questions.
U.S. Rep. James Comer, who represents Kentucky District 1 and is a former Kentucky agriculture commissioner, says he was able to talk to GenCanna officials Wednesday.
"I called GenCanna this morning, because I wanted to hear from them on what's going on," Comer says. "They assured me that everything was going to be OK. They felt like they would get their financing in order over the next couple weeks."
A source with firsthand knowledge of the situation tells Local 6 contractors are owed payments well into six figures. GenCanna is a privately held company, so its financial records are not publicly available. But, a publicly traded company, MariMed, in a June filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, reported that it now owns a third of GenCanna.
MariMed's filing says it is owed more than $25 million that must be paid by GenCanna by December of this year. While the plant won't be open until next year, farmers' hemp crops will be handled by the companies plant in Winchester, Kentucky. Farmers associated with GenCanna also can't talk about the company because of nondisclosure agreements.
The Mayfield Messenger also reported on Aug. 30 that GenCanna currently has some $100 million worth of hemp in production in Kentucky. That includes some 7,000 acres in production. GenCanna says planning evolution has slowed the plant construction. In a previous statement, the company said incorporation of rapidly changing technologies into the construction is the issue.