AgTech’s Diversified, Farmers-First Industrial Hemp Operation to Create 271 Jobs in Bourbon County

Company will work with farmers and UK, make $5M-plus initial investment in Paris facility for developing hemp-based products

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Jan. 26, 2018) – AgTech Scientific plans to create 271 jobs at a new hemp-products development and manufacturing center in Paris as it forges relationships with Kentucky farmers and partners on research projects with the state’s flagship university, Gov. Matt Bevin announced today.

“AgTech’s plans for Bourbon County put the company at the forefront of realizing Kentucky’s potential as an international leader in hemp production,” said Gov. Bevin. “The fact that their business plan includes groundbreaking research being performed at the University of Kentucky and mutually beneficial partnerships with our state’s farmers holds exciting possibilities for both industrial and agricultural hemp. This would not have been possible without last year’s efforts to better align state law with federal guidelines, which ensure hemp is grown and processed with the utmost transparency and under strict law enforcement supervision.”

AgTech leaders plan to buy 10 acres and a 10-acre option in the Bourbon County Business Park to build a state-of-the-art, 50,000-square-foot facility, expected to open in 2018. The company’s $5 million-plus investment could grow in the future.

AgTech holds a conditionally approved 2018 grower license from the Kentucky Department of Agriculture Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program and intends to partner with Kentucky farmers for largescale hemp production. The company would then extract cannabidiol (CBD) from the locally grown hemp. CBD differs from THC, the intoxicant in marijuana. Initially, the facility would produce an energy drink incorporating a hemp additive and would later expand its product lineup.

In partnership with the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, AgTech is researching potential health benefits of hemp-based additives for animal food. AgTech plans to eventually begin manufacturing pet and equine foods, among other products, contingent on changes to regulations.

Mike French, founder and president of AgTech, said the company chose Kentucky based on agricultural and manufacturing advantages. Increasing hemp yield while reducing risk will be key to building trust in the agricultural community and eventually with consumers, he said.

“Kentucky at one point many years ago was responsible for the vast majority of industrial hemp production,” French said. “The growing conditions are excellent and it’s ideally located geographically and near largescale ‘pick-and-pack’ facilities like Amazon.

“We thought it best to cover the full spectrum, from seed to sale. The best way to do that is to work with the farmer. The state needs to replace tobacco as a cash crop, but growers are used to getting a price before they plant. The problem with industrial hemp has been there is not a known commodity price, or price for quality. We are going to work with Kentucky farmers and guarantee a net price per acre through our Kentucky Farmer Value Added Partnership (KFVAP). If farmers are successful, then AgTech will be successful.”

Founded by Canadian entrepreneurs in 2015, AgTech’s leaders spent the last several years planning and seeking the right location for their company. The opportunity to launch AgTech in a state where hemp has such a rich history in tandem with the state’s largest research institution also made Kentucky attractive.

“Our research partnership with the University of Kentucky will be very important,” French said. “We’ve chosen to start with a three-year study, including actual testing, to better understand taste, effectiveness and overall benefits industrial hemp has for the equine industry and pets.”

Kentucky Department of Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said the addition of AgTech could benefit both rural and urban areas of the state.

“The continued growth and expansion of Kentucky’s nationally renowned hemp industry is creating new markets for our farmers and new jobs for rural as well as urban communities,” Commissioner Quarles said. “We want to thank Governor Bevin and our partners at the University of Kentucky for their continued commitment to growing our agricultural economy. We are thrilled to welcome AgTech to Kentucky.”

Sen. Stephen West, of Paris, said AgTech will make Bourbon County the epicenter of a rebirth in the state’s hemp industry.

“I am proud that AgTech will put Bourbon County on the front line in hemp research and development with its new facility,” Sen. West said. “With the county’s centralized location and ideal growing conditions, I look forward to the success of AgTech’s newest operations and the innovative products they will create for a number of industries.”

Rep. Sannie Overly, of Paris, noted the positive impact the project could have on local farmers.

“It means a lot that Bourbon County and our local farmers will have the opportunity to play a front-line role in the ongoing development of industrial hemp as another major agricultural commodity,” said Rep. Overly. “I appreciate AgTech’s decision to invest in our community and look forward to seeing its innovative ideas become a reality.”

Paris mayor Mike Thornton said AgTech’s approach to hemp creates intriguing possibilities for the company and the community.

“We are excited to partner with the state Economic Development Cabinet and Bourbon County Fiscal Court, to welcome AgTech Scientific to Paris and Bourbon County and look forward to helping them grow and build on their previous successes,” Mayor Thornton said. “Their cutting-edge technology not only creates much needed employment opportunities but offers an exciting new process for industrial hemp that will surely be a huge benefit to our local farmers. With the cooperation of the University of Kentucky, I anticipate seeing great things from AgTech Scientific in the future.”

Bourbon County judge-executive Michael R. Williams said county officials were encouraged by the company’s announcement and optimistic about its plans.

“The Bourbon County Fiscal Court is excited to share in the great news announcing that AgTech Scientific has selected Bourbon County to locate its state of the art facility for its industrial hemp operation,” Judge-Executive Williams said. “Their partnership with the Bourbon County Workforce and Bourbon County Farmers to grow their business will have a tremendous impact on the industry in Kentucky and secure a positive presence for their long term future in Bourbon County. We welcome their investment, their innovative ideas and their vision for the future. It’s great to have AgTech Scientific in Bourbon County.”

To encourage the investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) in January preliminarily approved the company for tax incentives up to $2.4 million through the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based incentive allows a company to keep a portion of its investment over the agreement term through corporate income tax credits and wage assessments by meeting job and investment targets.

In addition, AgTech can receive resources from the Kentucky Skills Network. Through the Kentucky Skills Network, companies can receive no-cost recruitment and job placement services, reduced-cost customized training and job training incentives. In fiscal year 2017, the Kentucky Skills Network provided training for more than 120,000 Kentuckians and 5,700 companies from a variety of industry sectors.

For more information on AgTech, visit www.agtechscientific.com.

A detailed community profile for Paris and Bourbon County can be viewed at http://bit.ly/BourbonCo.

Information on Kentucky’s economic development efforts and programs is available at ThinkKentucky.com. Fans of the Cabinet for Economic Development can also join the discussion on Facebook or follow on Twitter. Watch the Cabinet’s “This is My Kentucky” video on YouTube.

###

Time to Contact our Representatives about Samuel Girod

https://i0.wp.com/www.kyfreepress.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/girod-buggy-cropped.jpg

It’s time to start sending letters, emails, calls to the 8 elected representatives below (9 if you count Melania). Here’s the plan in two steps:

STEP 1: Have your letter and social media post handy in a text doc. You can copy and paste from the examples below or click here to download samples, then edit as you like.

STEP 2: Open each person’s website/social media, copy and paste your note, and send. Click here to jump to the addresses.

I tweeted, facebooked and emailed everyone in less than 20 minutes!

WHY

At the very least, our elected representatives must know that PLENTY of people care about an Amish KY farmer being railroaded into prison by an out of control federal agency.

Sam is 56, so even a paltry 20 years (of the 68 possible) could be a life sentence. And the feds might be able to take his farm if the judge makes the fine big enough.

All this over an innocent labeling infraction. Read the entire story here.

STEP 1: WHAT to Say

Examples below — it’s best to put in your own words so that every letter does not sound exactly the same. But if you don’t have time for that, copy and paste! Click here to download samples, then edit as you like.


TWEETS The following tweet is exactly the right # of characters. If you edit, make sure it’s no longer.

Did you know the FDA is jailing a KY Amish farmer for life over a label? He needs YOUR help now! #freeamishsam bit.ly/fda-sam


SHORT EMAIL or FACEBOOK POST

Did you know the FDA is jailing a KY Amish farmer for life over an innocent labeling infraction? He needs YOUR help now! Read the story at KyFreePress.com (bit.ly/fda-sam) Please let me know what you will do to keep this insanity from happening to other innocent Americans, and that you will do everything in your power to help secure a Presidential pardon for Samual Girod. We are ALL at risk! #freeamishsam #thefreedomcoalition


LONG EMAIL/LETTER

Dear ___________,

Ky Amish farmer Samuel Girod has been railroaded by the FDA into prison over an innocent labeling infraction on an all-natural salve that his family has made for 20 years with no complaints and no victims. He’s facing up to 68 years and $3M in fines.

Sam is currently in prison awaiting sentencing on June 30th, 2017. He is 56yo, has lived his whole life without electricity, the salve business has supported his family of 12 children and 25 grandchildren for 2 decades. Again, no complaints, no victims.

The FDA is the perfect example of a runaway federal bureaucracy making laws, then using them to bully innocent Americans. The FDA spent 16 years and hundreds of thousands of dollars to harass the Girods, destroying their quiet Amish farm life, then convicting Sam of the most outrageous charges!

What happened to Samuel Girod can happen to any small business owner in America. Details here: http://www.kyfreepress.com/2017/03/updated-sam-girod-v-fda/

We Americans are ALL at risk from the FDA and other over-reaching federal agencies! If you doubt that, check out thefreedomcoalition.com. There are literally thousands of innocent Americans in U.S. prisons for breaking a law made up out of thin air by an agency bureaucrat.

Please let me know what you will do to keep this insanity from happening to other innocent Americans.

Finally, and most importantly today, I am counting on you to resolve this outrageous injustice and do your part to secure a Presidential pardon for Samuel Girod.

#freeamishsam

Sincerely, (your name and title)

For Trump’s letter, make sure to ask for a presidential pardon directly: “…injustice and sign a Presidential pardon for Samuel Girod.”


STEP 2: WHO + Addresses

Be nice in your missives, please. We don’t know why politicians are silent, but they must have a reason. Let’s assume it’s valid. Keep in mind that Sam needs friends in high places. Let’s not alienate the very people who can help him.

TO EMAIL: Go to each website and use their form, all contact info below:

  • KY Congressman Thomas Massie — He’s at least been sympathetic to the issue. You can only email him if you live in his district. Mailing and phone are at the bottom of the page. Phone & Mail, Email | Facebook | Twitter

HOW Often?

Once a week. There are over 26,000 of us, that’s a big weekly voice! If we make contact only once, it will have minimal impact. We are aiming for BIG CONTACT so let’s do this weekly!!! Don’t worry, I’ll remind you.

Tips for Efficiency

Ain’t nobody got time for dis! Here’s how I made it as efficient as possible.

  1. Open your handy doc with your missives for easy copy and paste
  2. TWEETS — took me just 2 minutes to do them all! Open all the twitter pages at once (right click on each Twitter link above and “open link in new tab”). There is a “Tweet to Person” link under the profile pix (see Matt’s screenshot below). Click that, paste the tweet in the window, hit Tweet, close the tab, next. Tweet your representatives!
  3. FACEBOOK: either go to each person’s FB page (right click and open in a new tab) and make a comment on an existing post (any post, it doesn’t matter, pick one you like). OR do a post on YOUR timeline and “tag” everyone. All tags and instructions are on the word doc above. (I did a single post and tagged everyone, it took less than a minute!)
  4. EMAIL: Open all the email pages (right click and open in new tab), then copy and paste each letter one after the other. This part took me 13 minutes total.

For those of you who don’t live in Kentucky, you might take a few extra seconds and email your state reps. Tell them to “Rein in the federal agencies. Do not let this happen in our state!”


Please share your letters/tweets in the comments so others can see them and get ideas for their missives — thank you!!!
#freeamishsam #thefreedomcoalition

CONTINUE READING…

KDA seeks applications for specialty crop projects

 

Ag News

 

For Immediate Release
Thursday, March 3, 2016
For more information contact:
Angela Blank
(502) 573-0450

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles announced that farmers and other eligible applicants in Kentucky may seek funding from the Kentucky Department of Agriculture for producing and marketing “specialty crops.”

Specialty crops are defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, and horticulture and nursery crops.

“Our soils and climate are conducive for Kentucky to be a major producer of specialty crops,” Commissioner Quarles said. “In today’s global economy, we’re looking for applicants that will make our specialty crops more competitive not only in this country but around the world.”

Eligible producers, commodity groups, agriculture organizations, colleges and universities, municipalities, state agencies, and nonprofit organizations may apply. The maximum award to any applicant is $50,000, but the KDA encourages applications for lesser amounts.

Applications should show how the proposed project would produce measurable benefits for the specialty crop industry and/or the public rather than just a single entity. Grant funds will not be awarded for projects that solely provide a profit for a single organization, institution, or individual. Matching funds are encouraged but not required.

Applications must be postmarked no later than June 1. Projects cannot begin until the U.S. Department of Agriculture has made its official award announcement, expected in November. The program is funded by a Specialty Crop Block Grant of more than $200,000 from USDA. The KDA administers the program in Kentucky.

To download the application form, rules, eligibility requirements, and guidelines, go to www.kyagr.com/marketing/crop-block-grant.html. For more information, contact Joshua Lindau, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s plant marketing specialist, at (502) 782-4115 or joshua.lindau@ky.gov.

The Great Kentucky Hemp Experiment

By Jessica Firger 10/11/15 at 10:05 AM

10_16_Hemp_01

Above:  Western Kentucky University senior Corinn Sprigler helps harvest hemp plants at the WKU Farm in Bowling Green, Kentucky, in September 2014. Hemp potentially could be much more lucrative than tobacco if universities and farmers taking part in the Industrial Hemp Research Program, established by James Comer, Kentucky’s commissioner of agriculture, continue to hone their skills cultivating the crop. Bac To Trong/Daily News/AP

Filed Under: U.S., Hemp, farming, Agriculture, Kentucky

The Shell Farms & Greenhouses is an expansive 1,000-acre property in Garrard County, 37 miles south of Lexington, Kentucky. The five-generation family farm is operated by 31-year-old Giles Shell and his 60-year-old father, Gary. The two are whizzes at making ornamental flowers flourish, and like most farmers in the area, the family has grown tobacco for years.

In late June, the younger Shell stood outside one of six greenhouses on the farm and held up a yellowed tobacco plant with limp rootstock. The Shells know how to save sickly tobacco plants like this one, but they don’t want to anymore. “I’m hoping it’s our last crop,” Shell said.

Along the winding back roads of Central Kentucky’s bluegrass country, horses and cows graze on lush plains. For decades, tobacco helped farmers here keep their families clothed and fed. But that’s changing. Tobacco production facilities have slowly migrated to North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee due to consolidation within the industry, which has resulted in an ever-shrinking demand for the crop in Kentucky. There’s a replacement crop starting to come in, though: The Shell greenhouses that once nurtured thousands of tobacco plants are now home to 3,200 industrial hemp plants.

Try Newsweek for only $1.25 per week

hemp_1

Hemp Rescues Kentucky’s Flailing Agriculture Industry

As demand for tobacco diminishes, the state’s farmers are turning to growing cannabis—but not the kind you smoke. slideshow

It’s been close to 70 years since anyone in Kentucky—or anywhere in the U.S.—attempted to legally cultivate industrial hemp in massive quantities. But today, the Shells and other skilled farmers are taking up the cash crop yet again, under the auspices of the five-year pilot Industrial Hemp Research Program, established by James Comer, Kentucky’s commissioner of agriculture, which vets and licenses farmers in the state.

Shifting gears so dramatically hasn’t been easy. The biggest problem is the learning curve: Hemp isn’t tobacco, which means it’s unlike the crop farmers in the area are most familiar with. A major component of the pilot project has involved figuring out the optimal way to make the plant flourish in a much rainier environment than California or Colorado, where most cannabis is currently grown. Farmers have experimented with a number of techniques: covering the beds to prevent over-watering (as you would, for example, with tomatoes) and growing cuttings in flower pots (as they do with ornamental flowers).

And there’s another undeniable challenge: Industrial hemp is really just a few genetic tweaks away from marijuana and outsiders often don’t know one from the other. “When the stuff really starts to flower it has the same look and smell as marijuana. That’s why we have security” to contend with potential plant thieves, says Shell.

The difference between the two cannabis sativa plants is the level of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive chemical compound in the plant that’s responsible for causing the high. In order for cannabis to be considered industrial hemp, it must contain THC levels less than 0.3 percent; any more and the plant has officially crossed over into weed territory.

Currently all cannabis sativa—whether grown to ease chronic pain, get stoned or make rope—is a schedule I controlled substance, a result of the Controlled Substances Act passed by Congress in 1970, though state marijuana laws have changed some of the classifications at local levels. This is viewed as unfortunate by marijuana activists, but also by many in the agriculture industry, including Comer. He hopes to single-handedly turn industrial hemp into Kentucky’s No. 1 cash crop—and in the process, breathe new life into family farms that have lost millions of dollars with the fall of the tobacco industry.

Most industrial hemp is grown in China. With the right processing methods, the highly versatile plant can provide several notable revenue streams. Cannabidiol (CBD), a chemical compound in the plant, can be extracted from the leaves, blossoms and stems for medicinal and nutraceutical purposes. Cannabis oil derived from cold-pressing seeds is a healthful alternative to the oils sitting on most kitchen shelves, and it is already used in a number of cosmetic and beauty products. Other genetic variants of the plant are cultivated to produce fiber that can substitute for cotton, wood and plastic—a more sustainable way to make everyday products ranging from T-shirts to particleboard and even car dashboards.

And then there’s the potential for food. Hemp seed—high in fiber, antioxidants, omega-3s and protein—has a mild, nutty taste akin to flax. With the right marketing it could become the industry’s next superfood. It would also make for nutrient-packed animal feed.

Kentucky has a long, but mostly forgotten, history of hemp farming. The Speed family, intimately close friends of Abraham Lincoln, were hemp farmers in the state, as was Henry Clay, the 19th century statesman. Kentucky led the U.S. industrial hemp business until the end of the Civil War, when production of the crop declined and was generally replaced by tobacco. The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 put the kibosh on all production and sales of cannabis, including industrial hemp, but the crop saw a rapid resurgence during World War II. Hemp fiber became essential to produce military necessities such as uniforms and parachutes. The U.S. Department of Agriculture launched its national “Hemp for Victory” program, which provided seeds and draft deferments to farmers. In 1942, farmers planted 36,000 acres of hemp seed. A USDA-funded informational film from that year noted that “hemp grows so luxuriantly in Kentucky that harvesting is sometimes difficult.”

With backing from Senator Rand Paul, Comer’s proposed legislation—Senate Bill 50—passed in 2013. It created a regulatory framework for farmers to legally grow hemp in the state. In addition, Paul and Comer were able to get a provision added to the federal Farm Bill that legalized hemp production in states like Kentucky that had programs set up to grow the crop. The bill was signed by President Obama in 2014.

10_16_Hemp_02 Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has backed the efforts of Comer to return hemp to its historical position as one of the Bluegrass State’s cash crops. Its history in Kentucky includes even Abraham Lincoln, whose in-laws grew hemp, as well as Henry Clay, the 19th century statesman. Kentucky led the U.S. industrial hemp business until the end of the Civil War, when production of the crop declined and was replaced by tobacco. Carlos Barria/Reuters

Though state and federal lawmakers support the efforts, Comer says it hasn’t been easy for Kentucky’s agriculture department or any of the farmers in the pilot program. Last year was the first for Kentucky’s pilot program, but it yielded only 33.4 acres of industrial hemp in the state. The farmers were capable of growing much more, but the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has made it challenging, says Comer. The DEA’s cannabis eradication program provides funding to local law enforcement to form a SWAT team of “cowboys flying around in helicopters.” They have been known to sweep through private farms to confiscate the plants, and have even been known to mistake okra for marijuana.

Despite all this, the project has nearly doubled its hemp production this year, and at least 500 people in the state are now employed at it as a result. Comer says he hopes farmers will soon be able to grow at least 10,000 acres. “We want to be the Silicon Valley for industrial hemp,” he says. The state’s backcountry has already become fertile ground for startups like GenCanna Global, which has partnered with six local farms to grow hemp for CBD.

Matty Mangone-Miranda, GenCanna’s president and chief executive officer, and Chris Stubbs, its chief scientific officer, conducted early work to cultivate low-THC, high-CBD cannabis plants formerly called “hippie’s disappointment”—since it doesn’t cause a high—and now known as Charlotte’s Web. It’s produced by the Realm of Caring Foundation as a dietary supplement under federal law and as medical cannabis for sale in states that allow for its use. The story of Charlotte’s Web first came to public light in 2013, when CNN aired Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s documentary Weed, featuring Charlotte Figi, a 5-year-old with a rare refractory epilepsy disorder known as Dravet syndrome that caused her to have up to 300 seizures per week. The Figis were preparing to sign “do not resuscitate” forms for their daughter when a friend connected them with the founders of the company, and the girl gained nearly complete seizure control once she started ingesting the CBD oil.

After the CNN documentary ran, Realm of Caring couldn’t keep up with the resulting high demand, says Mangone-Miranda. They still have thousands of families on their waiting list. “The lack of supply of oil was a huge problem,” he explains. “For me, the logical solution was that we needed a massive, sustainable and reliable supply.” To solve the problem, GenCanna has invested in Kentucky’s farms with the goal of planting 200,000 plants that are genetically similar to Charlotte’s Web in 2015.

Now, GenCanna has an increasing list of companies looking to purchase CBD oil to develop novel products that have absolutely nothing to do with treating rare seizure disorders or making healthy granola. The company has received proposals for CBD-infused sports drinks, wine, beer, Listerine-type fresh breath strips and transdermal patches.

Over the summer, GenCanna, along with Atalo Holdings—another hemp cooperative—purchased a 147-acre former tobacco seed development and breeding facility in Winchester, Kentucky. Along with storage, processing, formulating and shipping buildings, their new Hemp Research Campus includes an over-8,000-square-foot laboratory with breeding rooms. The two companies hope the Hemp Campus will serve as an incubator for the industry, says Steve Bevan, GenCanna’s chief operating officer. “With the Hemp Campus we think we can bring more and smarter people here,” he says. GenCanna and other companies hope to plant their flags before imminent changes in federal and state cannabis regulations allow Big Pharma to enter the picture. “They’re going to throw money in a big way, so we want to understand as much as possible because we have a belief that this stuff is food.”

There is currently a bill in U.S. Congress that would reclassify hemp from a narcotic to an agricultural crop. If the law were to pass, it would minimize the red tape for established hemp farming programs. For example, says Comer, “we won’t have to send staff to a field to do GPS coordinates and then get that information to the state police and all this bureaucracy.”

Despite the regulations and red tape, industrial hemp has already been a saving grace for some of the farmers in the pilot program. The Halverson family, for example, was preparing to shutter their operation, which primarily grew ornamental plants, until GenCanna approached them. The company offered to pay the rent for their property, cover all expenses upfront—including a refurbishing of the greenhouse—and provide salaries to the family and a staff of more than 20. One condition: They would turn all their energies to cultivating hemp and work with GenCanna to learn how to grow this complicated plant and find a way to breed the best version of the plant that is stronger and more aggressive.

hemp_8 Tobacco farmers only earn the equivalent of about 4 cents per pack of cigarettes. It’s still uncertain how much revenue hemp will bring into Kentucky’s agriculture business but the farming community is hopeful. Jessica Firger for Newsweek

In the beginning, the Halversons were skeptical. The family are Sabbath-keeping Christians, and it was hard to know what their neighbors would think. But by that time the family had run out of money and options other than to close the farm. So they went for it.

At first, they were the subject of the weekly gossip at church. “You get to finishing some choral music, and then the conversation after is ‘Are you guys really growing that stuff?’” says Mikkel Halverson. “We feel that growing hemp is more than just work—it is a way we can help those in need. It is part of a healing ministry.” Now, the Halversons’ 36,000-square-foot greenhouse overflows with thousands of hemp plants.

Halverson knows he could probably make a lot more money if he grew the type of cannabis that gets people high, but his family has decided they will not grow a version of hemp that could potentially be smoked, no matter how skilled they become at farming the crop. “I think God made all of the plants,” he says. ”But we’re going to stick with CBD hemp.”

CONTINUE READING…

Ky Ag looking for farmers to grow hemp

Last updated: December 04. 2014 11:07AM – 1102 Views

By Chris Cooperccooper@newsdemocratleader.com

 

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture is now accepting applications from the state’s farmers who would like to participate in an industrial hemp pilot project the beginning of next year.

The application deadline is Jan. 1. Logan County farmers can find and fill out an application at http://www.kyagr.com/hemp.

Agriculture Commissioner James Comer announced earlier in the year that he is creating industrial hemp pilot projects in Kentucky. The pilot projects were made possible by the passage of the United States Farm Bill that was signed into law by the President on Feb. 7.

Commissioner Comer and Attorney General Jack Conway have been in direct communication for a couple of months regarding hemp production in Kentucky, and senior staff in both of their offices are reviewing language for pilot programs that ensure compliance with the parameters outlined in the federal farm bill.

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture Industrial Hemp Program is the result of the passage of two separate laws: Kentucky’s Senate Bill 50, passed by the Kentucky General Assembly in 2013, and the 2014 Federal Farm Bill signed into law Feb. 7, 2014. Senate Bill 50 exempted industrial hemp from the state controlled substances act but also mandated that Kentucky follow all federal rules and regulations with respect to industrial hemp. The Federal Farm Bill allows state departments of agriculture, in states where industrial hemp is legal, to administer industrial hemp pilot programs in conjunction with universities for the purposes of research and development.

Industrial hemp is a variety of Cannabis sativa and is of the same plant species as marijuana. However, hemp is genetically different and distinguished by its use and chemical makeup. Industrial hemp refers to cannabis varieties that are primarily grown as an agricultural crop. Hemp plants are low in THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, marijuana’s primary psychoactive chemical). THC levels for hemp generally are less than 1 percent. Federal legislation that would exclude hemp from the legal definition of marijuana would set a ceiling of 0.3 percent THC for a cannabis variety to be identified as hemp. Marijuana refers to the flowering tops and leaves of psychoactive cannabis varieties, which are grown for their high content of THC. THC levels for marijuana average about 10 percent but can go much higher.

Some estimate that the global market for hemp consists of more than 25,000 products, including: fabrics and textiles, yarns and raw or processed spun fibers, paper, carpeting, home furnishings, construction and insulation materials, auto parts, composites, animal bedding, foods and beverages, body care products, nutritional supplements, industrial oils, cosmetics, personal care and pharmaceuticals.

An estimated 55,700 metric tons of industrial hemp are produced around the world each year. China, Russia, and South Korea are the leading hemp-producing nations. They account for 70 percent of the world’s industrial hemp supply.

Canada had 38,828 licensed acres of industrial hemp in 2011. Canadian exports of hemp seed and hemp products were estimated at more than $10 million, with most going to the U.S.

Because there is no commercial industrial hemp production in the United States, the U.S. market is largely dependent on imports, both as finished hemp-containing products and as ingredients for use in further processing. More than 30 nations grow industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity. The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not allow industrial hemp production. Current industry estimates report that U.S. retail sales of all hemp-based products may exceed $300 million per year.

To contact Chris Cooper, email ccooper@newsdemocratleader.comm or call 270-726-8394.

CONTINUE READING…

Evil Monsanto Aggressively Sues Farmers for Saving Seeds

Farmers have always saved seeds from their harvest to sow the following year. But Monsanto and other big seed companies have changed the rules of the game.

June 20, 2013 |  

The following content originally appeared on TruthOut.

There has been mixed news for the agrochemical giant Monsanto recently. On the one hand, there was the  surprise announcement on June 1 by company spokesman Brandon Mitchener: “We are no longer working on lobbying for more cultivation in Europe…  Currently we do not plan to apply for the approval of new genetically modified crops.”

The embattled corporation has decided to stop tilting against the windmill of European resistance to its controversial biotech seeds. Eight EU nations have already prohibited GM (genetically modified) cultivation on their territory and banned the import of genetically modified foods from abroad.

But Monsanto’s prospects in the United States took a very different turn last month when the US Supreme Court ordered Indiana farmer Vernon Bowman to pay Monsanto over $80,000 for planting its GM soybean seeds. Bowman had purchased the seeds from a grain elevator rather than from Monsanto itself, as their corporate contract requires. The seeds had been saved from an earlier crop. 

For as long as humans have been growing food, farmers have saved seeds from their harvest to sow the following year. But Monsanto and other big seed companies have changed the rules of the game. They have successfully argued that they spend millions of dollars developing new crop varieties and that these products should be treated as proprietary inventions with full patent protection.  Just as one can’t legally reproduce a CD or DVD, farmers are now prohibited from copying the GM seeds that they purchase from companies like Monsanto, Bayer, Dow and Syngenta. 

In one sense, these corporations no longer sell seeds – they lease them, requiring farmers to renew their lease with every subsequent growing season. Monsanto itself compares its GM seeds to rental cars. When you are finished using them, rights revert to the owner of the “intellectual property” contained within the seed.

Some farmers have saved their seeds anyway (called “brown bagging”), in some cases to save money, in others because they don’t like the big companies telling them how to farm. Monsanto has responded with an all-out effort to track down the brown baggers and prosecute them as an example to others who might be tempted to violate its patent. By aggressively enforcing its “no replant policy,” Monsanto has initiated a permanent low-grade war against farmers. At the time of this writing, the company had not responded to emailed questions about its seed saving policies.

“I don’t know of [another] company that chooses to sue its own customer base,” Joseph Mendelson of the Center for Food Safety told Vanity Fair Magazine. ” It’s a very bizarre business strategy.”

Yet the strategy appears to be working. Over 90 percent of the soybeans, corn, canola and cotton grown in the United States are patented genetically modified organisms (commonly known as GMOs). The soybean variety that Bowman planted has proved popular with farmers because it has been modified to survive multiple sprayings by Monsanto’s best-selling herbicide Roundup, whose active agent is glyphosate. While Monsanto claims that GMOs increase crop yields, there is little evidence that this is the case. The chemical giant turned seed company also claims that the new technology decreases the need for agrochemicals. Yet 85 percent of all GM crops are bred to be herbicide resistant, which has meant that pesticide use is increasing as a result of the spread of GM crops. What GMOs were designed to do – and indeed accomplish – is create plants that can be grown efficiently in the chemical-intensive large scale monocultures that dominate American agriculture.

Pages

View as a single page

CONTINUE TO SITE HERE…

Kentucky agriculture commissioner brings pro-hemp message to Lexington

 

hemp-300x200

 

 

Published: January 3, 2013

By Beverly Fortune — bfortune@herald-leader.com

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer brought his pro-hemp message to the Lexington Forum on Thursday.

Since taking office in 2011, Comer has held town meetings in all 120 Kentucky counties, inviting local legislators to attend, to promote industrial hemp. In the early 19th century, Kentucky was the nation’s leading hemp producer.

Comer is backing a bill in the General Assembly that would permit industrial hemp to again be cultivated.

Hemp would produce income for farmers and create manufacturing jobs for products using hemp, he said.

Farmers growing hemp would have to be licensed by the state and their fields inspected regularly, Comer said.

The Department of Agriculture, the state’s largest regulatory agency, would oversee cultivation and sales of the crop.

Hemp is a sustainable, annual crop that “is easy and cheap to grow,” he said. “It grows well in this climate and requires very little fertilizer or insecticides.” The plant grows best in marginal soils found in many Central and Eastern Kentucky counties.

For people, including law enforcement officers, who are concerned that marijuana might be grown in hemp fields and the hemp and marijuana plants confused, Comer said the two look completely different.

Marijuana is a short, bushy plant with lots of leaves; industrial hemp is tall, with a thick stalk and few leaves.

When grown near each other, hemp and marijuana cross-pollinate, and the hemp destroys buds on the marijuana plants, he said. “Industrial hemp is an enemy of marijuana,” Comer said. “Law enforcement should be for industrial hemp.”

The long-dormant Industrial Hemp Commission, revived under Comer, has contracted with the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture to conduct an economic-impact study.

For the crop to be grown successfully, there has to be a market for the fibers, Comer said. “Many products we make from plastic, like car dashboards, armrests, carpet and fabrics, are made from hemp in other countries. Hemp is also used to make paper.”

Comer said one major benefit of growing hemp would be the manufacturing jobs created to produce items using hemp fibers, seed and oil.

“The United States is the only industrial country in the world that doesn’t allow industrial hemp to be grown, yet many products Americans buy have hemp as an ingredient,” he said. Hemp is legally grown in Canada and China, and throughout Europe.

If the General Assembly approves growing industrial hemp, the federal government would have to lift restrictions before it could be grown. “I want us to be ready when the federal government gives the go-ahead. I’m convinced they’re going to do that,” Comer said.

Beverly Fortune: (859) 231-3251. Twitter: @BFortune2010.

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2013/01/03/2463466/state-agriculture-commissioner.html#storylink=cpy