The Kentucky industrial hemp industry saw a lucrative 2018 as hemp product sales surged from $17 million in 2017 to $58 million in 2018 — a more than three-fold increase, according to a WAVE 3 report.
In addition to the explosive hemp product sales, hemp processors from around the nation are also purchasing more raw hemp from Kentucky farmers — $18 million worth just last year — according to a state Agriculture Department review of hemp processor reports. Much of the hype has been attributed to the rising national popularity of hemp-sourced CBD, which has become a popular infusion for edible and topical oils, lotions, dog treats, soaps, and other wellness products.
Dean Williams, an agronomy professor at the University of Kentucky, said that the crop is making a strong comeback particularly in Kentucky, where farmers used to grow the plant extensively.
“The cannabinoids are by far the largest sector in the [hemp] industry, making up 93% of the acreage and farmers in Kentucky.” — University of Kentucky Agronomy Professor Dean Williams, via WAVE 3
The December passage of the 2018 farm bill — which removed industrial hemp from the Controlled Substances Act — has also drummed up more excitement around the industry. Hemp farmers are reporting that it’s gotten easier to offload their product since then.
“We need to approach it with some level of caution only because we don’t have a good idea of what supply and demand will be,” said Williams.