According to a story from the Associated Press, Kentucky’s approved hemp acreage is up nearly 3 times from a year ago. State agricultural officials have approved 209 applications from growers which has allowed for up to 12,800 acres of hemp in the past year. Back in 2014, experimental projects began in the state with just 33 acres. Last year, 137 growers were given approval to plant up to 4,500 acres.
The increase in hemp production in Kentucky is attracting more processors, according to Kentucky Agricultural Commissioner Ryan Quarles.
“It reflects the tremendous enthusiasm that Kentucky farmers and processors have in a crop that connects our past to our future,” said Quarles.
Kentucky has been in the forefront in the U.S. in its efforts to return hemp to mainstream status. Since hemp has been classified as a controlled substance related to marijuana, growing it without a federal permit has been banned and difficult to do. Hemp has a smaller amount of THC, the psychoactive compound that gives marijuana users a “high.” Hemp is valued for its fiber, seeds and oils.
“The growth in demand for hemp production despite the challenges faced by producers is proof of the economic potential of this crop,” said Eric Steenstra, president of the advocacy group Vote Hemp. “It is time for Congress to act and remove the remaining restrictions on the crop.”