As Kentucky and federal lawmakers consider legalizing industrial hemp, the chair of the University of Kentucky's agriculture economics department notes that such an industry won't rise overnight.

It's a matter of economic viability. The main question being: With corn, soybeans and other crops selling at record high levels, what would entice farmers to switch to hemp instead?

Leigh Maynard, chair of the University of Kentucky’s ag economics department, said he expects farmers to be hesitant to begin growing industrial hemp. Maynard said  farmers will likely balk at the idea of foregoing record high prices in other markets just to grow hemp.

The second meeting of the state’s Industrial Hemp Commission will include picking out some details of panel’s efforts. The commission, chaired by Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, will dive Friday morning into specifics of a new legislative proposal.

They include the bill’s language and which legislators will sponsor it during the 2013 session.

Comer says a state university will be selected to conduct a new economic study of legalizing industrial hemp in Kentucky.

Kevin Willis

Despite experiencing one of the worse droughts in U.S. history, agriculture economists in Kentucky are projecting record cash receipts for the state’s farmers.

During their annual outlook during the Kentucky Farm Bureau conference, economists from the University of Kentucky say they think Kentucky will break the $5-billion barrier in revenues this year.

Lead economist Will Snell says high prices for many crops -- along will increased exports and insurance payouts  -- helped offset the drought for many agricultural industries in Kentucky.

Kentucky Sheriffs' Association Executive Director Jerry Wagner says his group hasn't decided on supporting or opposing legalizing industrial hemp. Wagner and other members of the KSA board met with Agriculture Commissioner James Comer Thursday in Frankfort for more information on the subject.

Republican advocates of industrial hemp in Kentucky are getting some across the aisle help. Rep. John Yarmuth, a Louisville Democrat, supports efforts to legalize the plant in Kentucky, his spokesman said. U.S. Senator Rand Paul and Agriculture Commissioner James Comer are the two leading advocates for the move.

Massie Signs On as Co-Sponsor of Hemp Legislation

Nov 27, 2012

U.S. Rep.-elect Thomas Massie is co-sponsoring legislation that would require the federal government to honor state laws allowing production of industrial hemp. The proposed Industrial Hemp Farming Act would exclude industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana. A similar bill is being co-sponsored in the U.S. Senate by Kentucky Republican Rand Paul.

Farmers growing burley tobacco in Kentucky and Tennessee are receiving some of the best crop prices they've seen since 2004. That's the last year the crop was sold under production and price controls established by the federal government.

Kentucky Agriculture Secretary James Comer said recent measures in Washington and Colorado to legalize marijuana use will only strengthen efforts to allow industrial hemp in the commonwealth. Marijuana and hemp are considered cousins. Hemp is grown for its fiber and oil and it can’t be used as a drug like marijuana can.

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer says he will seek to legalize industrial hemp in 2013, and to kick off the effort he convened a Wednesday meeting of a hemp commission that hasn't met in years. Comer told members of Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission that passing hemp legislation will be his top priority in next year's General Assembly.

Industrial Hemp Commission to Meet in Frankfort

Nov 14, 2012

After years of dormancy, the Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission will hold a special meeting in Frankfort today. The meeting was called at the request of a majority of Commission members.

A University of Kentucky professor has received a $1.4 million grant to conduct a multiyear study of health and safety practices of the Thoroughbred industry. Jennifer Swanberg, a professor of social work and executive director of the Institute for Workplace Innovation at the university, received the funding for the Thoroughbred Worker Health and Safety Study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Kentucky's agriculture commissioner says the state's four-year-old fuel and pesticide testing lab has not lived up to its initial billing. James Comer told members of the state's interim joint committee on agriculture that his predecessor, Richie Farmer, sold the fuel lab as a great investment and moneymaker for the commonwealth.

Kentucky Vegetable Growers Association

Many people who raise fruits and vegetables in Kentucky are finding good marketing opportunities for their produce. As consumers look for fresh produce and healthy diets, road side stands and creative approaches are leading to an important source of income for some small farmers, and some who raise more produce than they can sell themselves.  As more Kentucky school systems look for fresh produce for their cafeteria programs, the opportunities are expected to increase.

While the high cost of gas hurts most consumers, Kentucky's agriculture commissioner says farmers are especially hard-hit. James Comer says fuel costs impact every part of food production, leaving farmers with little recourse when gas prices spike.

WKU Public Radio

University of Kentucky Agricultural Economist Will Snell says a rise in commodity prices and increasing indemnity payments will result in higher net farm income than many would have expected this year. Speaking to the Interim Joint Committee on Agriculture in Lexington, Snell pointed to USDA projections that net farm income this year will reach its highest level in 42 years.