Tag Archives: Kentucky Agriculture Commission

Kentucky Congressman Champions Deregulation of Industrial Hemp

1/7/2018 |

Chris Clayton

A freshman Kentucky congressmen, and member of the House Agriculture Committee, attended the American Farm Bureau Federation convention on Sunday to promote his new legislation to deregulate industrial hemp nationally.

Rep. James Comer, a Republican representing Kentucky’s 1st Congressional District, was the state’s agricultural commissioner from 2012 to 2016 before being elected to Congress. During his time as ag commissioner, the state passed a bill to set up a regulatory framework to make industrial hemp a reality.

“That was six years ago. Today, Kentucky is the leading industrial-hemp producing state in the nation and 20 other states have passed similar legislation.”

Comer’s bill would reclassify industrial hemp from a controlled substance to an agricultural crop. The bill would make it clear it is not a drug and Comer said he does not support legalization of marijuana.

“I’m trying to differentiate between marijuana and hemp,” he said.

Hemp generally has less than .3% of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical compound that creates the high in marijuana, which generally has 15% or more THC. That difference is “It is a crop that has a lot of potential, not just for farmers, but for manufacturing,” Comer said.

Hemp can still produce Cannabidiol (CBD) oil that Comer said can be a solution in managing pain, and possibly help address the country’s opioid crisis. CBD oil can treat pain in a non-addictive manner, he said.

“I think hemp has a very bright future, but we have to get the federal government off the backs of producers and give the private sector confidence that this is an agricultural crop and something worth investing in, not something they have to worry about some overzealous DEA agent or Department of Justice coming in and seizing their assets because they do not know the difference between hemp and marijuana.”

Beyond CBD oil, Comer said there is a Louisville company making fiber, as well as a fiber foam that is going into at least some automobile production. Comer said other auto manufacturers want to research further uses for auto interiors as well. There are also companies using hemp to produce animal feed and bedding, he said.

“We’re trying to utilize every part of the plant and I feel Kentucky has proven there is huge demand for hemp products,” Comer said.

Comer said his bill has House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., as a co-sponsor. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., also is going to introduce a companion bill in the Senate. McConnell had language in the last farm bill to help commercialize the crop in the state.

Comer said he will likely look to move his legislation through the Energy and Commerce Committee, as well as Judiciary, but he said it is possible the bill might be included in the upcoming farm bill. Comer added, however, that at least some members of the House Agriculture Committee are leery of dealing with a hemp-legalization bill.

“The Ag Committee really is not as crazy about this as some of the other committees,” Comer said. “They hear hemp and they get scared.”

Comer’s bill comes, however, as Attorney General Jeff Sessions seeks to potentially reinstate more prosecutorial authority over marijuana even as more states are legalizing the drug. That could blur the lines in the debate about hemp as well.

The American Farm Bureau Federation also has endorsed the bill and the growth of industrial hemp as an agricultural industry.

Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN

CONTINUE READING…

Advertisements

Company to process hemp, other fiber receives state dollars

For Immediate Release

April 13, 2017

Company to process hemp, other fiber receives state dollars

FRANKFORT—A Kentucky-based company looking to process the fiber of around 750 acres of hemp and the jute-like plant kenaf has been approved for $381,500 in state funds to expand its processing facility.

The Louisville-based Sunstrand received the Kentucky Agricultural Development Board’s (KADB) approval for the funding, drawn from the state’s tobacco settlement agreement dollars, in February. Approved state funds will be used to match county-level KADB funds up to $381,500, with any shortfall covered as a loan up to the full amount, Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy (GOAP) Deputy Executive Director Bill McCloskey told the Tobacco Settlement Agreement Fund Oversight Committee yesterday.

McCloskey said the natural fiber processed by Sunstrand is being used instead of plastic and glass fiber in car parts manufacturing and other industries, with economic benefits.

“It can be a lower input for the plastic and injection mold industry, specifically car parts,” he told the committee.

Sen. Dennis Parrett, D-Elizabethtown, told the committee that funding Sunstrand may lead to commercial fiber processing-facility requests from other parts of the state. “We opened up an avenue for several of these others. Are you going to be able to treat them the same way?”

GOAP Executive Director Warren Beeler said “probably not.”

“This idea was to do a seed plant and do a fiber plant, and then step aside,” he told Parrett.

Another hemp-related project that came before the KADB in February was a request from the Kentucky Hemp Research Foundation, which McCloskey said requested $189,592 in state and county-level agricultural development funds for research. Total funds approved by the board were $2,000 in Floyd County funds, said McCloskey.

The county funds were approved because they were prioritized by the county, Beeler told the committee.

“We trust the county more than anybody, and they put a high priority on it, then we assume that’s how they want to spend their money,” said Beeler.

At the same time, Beeler said the KADB “felt like research probably needs to be left at this point and time to the (state) universities,” which McCloskey said were conducting 17 hemp research projects in 2016.

The KADB in February also approved:

· A request for $12,000 in county funds for Hopkinsville Elevator to investigate business opportunities in canola;

· $179,373 for Eastern Kentucky University for robotic milkers for dairy farming;

· $50,000 to Kentucky Agricultural Opportunities Inc. to create a producer-owned entity to look at business opportunities in Central Kentucky, specifically the Bluegrass Stockyards project.

Committee Co-Chair Rep. Myron Dossett, R-Pembroke, thanked the GOAP for the update on how tobacco settlement dollars are being used for the state’s benefit.

“I think it’s important for us to share …the importance of what this tobacco settlement money is doing, not only for our ag producers, but how it’s impacting our communities,” said Dossett.

–END–