Agriculture
2:34 pm
Thu May 8, 2014

Hemp Seeds Facing One Final Hurdle Before Making It Into Kentucky Soil

Hemp seeds will soon be legally planted in Kentucky for the first time in decades.

A shipment of hemp seeds from Italy has made it to Kentucky, but there’s a problem.

Customs officials in Louisville have so far refused to release the 250 pound shipment to the state Agriculture Department.

While Kentucky law was recently changed to allow the growing of hemp for university-run research projects, federal customs officials are still leery of signing off on the seed shipments. State officials say the confusion is holding up hemp seeds from getting to project locations in the commonwealth.

“I spoke with a customs official in Chicago, and once I advised her of what the law is, and what we’re doing at the Department of Agriculture, customs in Chicago released the seeds to Louisville, and now it’s just a question of getting everyone on the same page,” said Holly Harris VonLuehrte, chief of staff at the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.

VonLuehrte told WKU Public Radio Thursday afternoon that she thinks customs officials will sign off on the hemp seeds within “the next 24 hours.”

The shipment of seeds from Italy is designated to supply three pilot hemp projects in Kentucky.

VonLuehrte says the agriculture department has a prior shipment of hemp seeds ready for planting next Friday in Rockcastle County, home to a pilot hemp project being conducted by Kentucky State University.

“So we have the programs ready to go, we have six universities who are ready, willing, and able to conduct research on industrial hemp fields and plots, and we just have to get the seed in here," she said. "That’s really the last step in this process.”