WKU Public Radio News Staff
Wed October 30, 2013
Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Sees Automakers as Industrial Hemp Customers
Agriculture Commissioner James Comer says, realistically, Kentucky is two years away from growing industrial hemp.
In the meantime, he’s been talking with processors and companies interested in using hemp in their products. Toyota has two plants in Bardstown and Lebanon that manufacture dashboards and door panels. Comer says Toyota would most likely become a hemp customer.
"They use a fiber similar to industrial hemp called kanaff. Kanaff is a subtropical plant and it will not grow in Kentucky," explains Comer. "The factories in Bardstown and Lebanon import the kanaff fiber from Indonesia. They would rather grow it in Kentucky next to their factory than import from Indonesia."
The Kentucky General Assembly passed a bill this year that sets up the regulatory framework for growing hemp if he becomes legalized on the federal level.
Recent memos from the Justice Department have made it unclear as to the legality of growing hemp in the Commonwealth. Comer and U.S. Senator Rand Paul have sent a letter to the Justice Department, indicating Kentucky will begin issuing permits to farmers as early as next February unless they are told otherwise.