BOURBON COUNTY - When you think of Kentucky-made products, hemp doesn't quite have the brand recognition of bats or bourbon, but it could be poised to boom. AgTech Scientific recently broke ground on a 50,000-square-foot facility in Paris.
"We have the best farmers in the world right in Kentucky," AgTech spokeswoman Jessica Scott smiled. "And we’re so happy to be working alongside them."
- AgTech Scientific breaks ground on 50,000 sq. ft. hemp production facility in Paris
- Company has been working with handful of local farmers to produce in 2018
- Once completed, Paris facility expected to employ 250 new workers
While conservative states like Kentucky seem to be far from embracing marijuana, Scott says hemp, its similarly-leafed cousin, is far from potent.
"It’s all in the cannibis family," She added. "Really, the separation comes from the level of THC in the plant. So, an industrial hemp plant has 0.3%-or-below THC, whereas a marijuana plant would have higher than that."
Hemp is used to make everything from healing oils, to rope, to home insulation. The 2014 national Farm Bill paved the way for pilot programs around the industry. Scott says local and state leaders jumped at the opportunity to bring the centuries-old industry back to the forefront of Kentucky agriculture, especially to help farmers relying on crops that are fading in demand.
"We all are so optimistic that industrial hemp can become, sometime in the future, what burley tobacco was in Kentucky’s past," Sen. Mitch McConnell, (R)-KY, said at a press conference in June.
AgTech has committed to providing 250+ new jobs at the upcoming facility in Bourbon County, and company leaders say the first ground tests were wildly successful; after planning on planting 2,000 plants, they say they put in 200,000 in 2018, and they plan to drop 4,000,000 next growing season. Scott says the stars are aligning over the bluegrass.
"The communities are educated," She said. "They rally around hemp, the farmers are looking for a diversified option to grow, and the state and local governments are educated and supportive of this. When you go to other states you really don’t find the same situation."
AgTech plans to establish its corporate office in Paris once the new facility is completed sometime in 2019.