BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) -- Hemp continues to gain traction and interest both across the country, and here in South Central Kentucky.
Hemp production continues to garner interest in Kentucky as it steps into the sphere of being a commercial crop. (Photo: Madison Martin)
Those involved in the industry, and those looking to get into it, met today at the Warren County Extension Office.
After the 2018 Farm Bill passed, industrial hemp was taken off of the Controlled Substances Act, and farmers now have increased access to USDA programs.
Kentucky's original pilot program has since been shifting into commercial hemp production, and interest in growing and developing the crop has risen.
"We have over a thousand growers this year and over 200 processors. That's about a four-fold increase from last year. We're up over 60,000 acres of licensed hemp fields," said Ryan Burnett, director of the plant division for Kentucky Dept. of Agriculture. "We're thinking probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 20-plus for actually planted and grown. It's just taking off like crazy."
Industrial hemp can be turned into a variety of goods, like textiles, plastics, paper and more.
A new hemp processor, who will be focusing on CBD production, will be built up in Simpson County.
"It's kind of nice when you talk to someone, you tell them that this is the business you're in -- there's always some great story about somebody's mother or aunt or father; grandmother, grandfather, sister, brother; that started taking some CBD-derived product or some hemp-related product that really helped them," said Tony Notargiacomo, XYZ CBD Processing and Farms in Franklin.
The processor holds 130 acres.
They plan to get a growing license to eventually start growing hemp and also create a training ground for other farmers in the area.
"We're just super excited to be in the state of Kentucky. The groundbreaking is the 26th of this month," said Notargiacomo. "We're looking forward to having our facility up and running sometime in early May of next year."
For information on applying to become a hemp grower or processor in the Commonwealth, visit this website.