One of Kentucky’s first licensed hemp growers is optimistic about congressional action to legalize the plant as an agricultural commodity.
Brian Furnish of Cynthiana says U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and many other congressional leaders have been convinced of the market potential of hemp.
The hemp provision is in the Senate version of the farm bill, but not in the House measure. Furnish feels like differences can be worked out.
“We feel pretty good about our position and we think it will survive the conference committee, if they work out the differences on the work requirement for food stamps,” said Furnish.
Furnish, an eighth generation farmer and also a hemp processor, says McConnell’s push to get hemp taken off the federal list of controlled substances demonstrates the bipartisan support behind a hemp provision. “We’ve proven to Senator McConnell and others that it is a commodity. It’s one that Kentucky farmers need to be growing and there is market potential. And it’s not marijuana. So, we’ve educated tons of people over the last five years on what it is and what it isn’t,” added Furnish.
Furnish says the House farm bill contains work requirement language while the Senate bill doesn’t. Furnish says hemp acreage in Kentucky has gone from 33 acres in 2014 to approval for 16,000 acres this year.