Barren County Farm Bureau was recognized during the 99th Kentucky Farm Bureau (KFB) annual meeting in Louisville for its outstanding membership and program achievement in 2018. The award honors county Farm Bureau offices who meet the company’s profitability requirements and whose insurance policy growth meets or exceeds its annual growth goal.
Jay Coleman, President of Barren County Farm Bureau (center left), accepts the awards.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told his KFB Group, Saturday that federal lawmakers are close to passing a new farm bill that will legalize industrial hemp — a long-banned crop now gaining a foothold in Kentucky.
The measure would renew the safety net for farmers at a time when the sector has struggled from low commodity prices, tough weather conditions during harvest and trade disruptions amid President Donald Trump’s use of tariffs to try to gain concessions from trading partners.
The biggest stumbling block to an agreement on the farm bill was a dispute over work requirements for food stamp recipients.
The deal worked out by congressional negotiators would scrap new work requirements for some older food stamp recipients — rejecting a plan backed by Trump and House Republicans.
Hemp is deeply rooted in Kentucky’s past, and the bluegrass state has emerged as a national leader in redeveloping a hemp industry.
Hemp legalization would make it a legal agricultural commodity, removing it from the federal list of controlled substances. Growing hemp without a federal permit was banned decades ago because of its classification as a controlled substance related to marijuana. Hemp and marijuana are the same species, but hemp has a negligible amount of THC, the psychoactive compound that gives marijuana users a high.
The crop was historically used for rope but has many other uses, including clothing and mulch from the fiber; hemp milk and cooking oil from the seeds; and soap and lotions. Other uses include building materials, animal bedding and biofuels. Hemp-derived cannabidiol, or CBD oil, as a health product has become an increasingly large market.
Hemp’s comeback started with the 2014 federal farm bill. McConnell helped push for a provision allowing states to pursue hemp research and development. That allowed the crop to be grown on an experimental basis.
Kentucky farmers planted 6,700 acres (2,710 hectares) of hemp in 2018 — more than twice last year’s production, according to the state’s agriculture department. More than 70 Kentucky processors are turning the plant into products. The value of Kentucky’s 2017 hemp crop was about $17 million.