Kentucky's Kicking the Tobacco Habit and Embracing Hemp

Kentucky has re-established itself as a leading agricultural center for growing hemp. Kentucky’s history with hemp began over 250 years ago. The state’s production grew to account for over three quarters of the nation’s production of hemp in the 19th and 20th centuries. Kentucky wants the state to reclaim this status. The Kentucky Legislature introduced SR-166 that would authorize the creation of a task force to help farmers transition from growing tobacco to hemp. The resolution notes that farmers have struggled to find an economically viable crop as an alternative to the declining tobacco market. The tobacco harvest has declined over seventy percent over the past two decades. By contrast, hemp production has skyrocketed by over 150% in the last year from 16,000 acres in 2018 to over 42,000 acres in 2019. The 2019 estimates takes Kentucky well ahead of Oregon’s expected 20,000 acres. With these numbers, Kentucky will be well positioned to garner a decent share of the $4 billion global hemp market.