It’s a cool, overcast afternoon at Gaining Grounds Farm, about 60 miles south of Lexington. About 90 people, many of them veterans, farmers, or a combination thereof, are seated under a makeshift tent, taking refuge from a light rain that’s drizzling Gaining Ground's undulating 425 acres.
A group of Kentucky military veteran farmers say they will plant a crop of hemp seeds this week following a federal court hearing.
The Kentucky Agriculture Department had sued the Drug Enforcement Agency over the DEA's seizure of hemp seeds imported for research. A judge ruled that the seeds can be released with the proper permits.
The Kentucky Department of Agriculture is preparing to go to court to get 250 pounds of hemp seeds released to the state. The seeds, imported from Italy, are being held at a UPS warehouse in Louisville. The Drug Enforcement Administration argues a special permit is needed from the federal agency, despite language in the Farm Bill.
Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway is offering to assist hemp supporters as the state prepares for the start of a hemp-growing pilot program this year. The pilot projects were made possible by the passage of the United States Farm Bill that was signed into law by the President on Feb. 7.
An amendment legalizing hemp production for research has made it into the Farm Bill that will be up for a vote soon in Congress. The amendment, co-sponsored by Kentucky Congressman Thomas Massie, allows universities and state agriculture departments to grow hemp for study purposes.
Originally published on Thu September 12, 2013 2:14 pm
Sen. Rand Paul and Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture James Comer are playing a game of chicken with the federal government over the growing of industrial hemp in the state.
Encouraged by the state’s Industrial Hemp Commission, Comer and Paul plan to draft a letter to U.S. Department of Justice indicating that Kentucky will proceed with adopting regulations and issuing permits for farmers to begin planting the controversial crop as early as next February, unless they are told otherwise.