Katie Moyer has grown more than 100 acres of hemp in Christian County and is pressing oil from the hemp seeds to make salves, moisturizers, and lip balm. Moyer also serves on the Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission. She says there is a lot of room in Kentucky’s hemp market for small business owners.
“I’ve got a gentleman in the Mayfield area who wants to make soap from the hemp oil that we press,” Moyer said. “And maybe he’s not actually processing hemp or anything like that, but we’ll process the oil and then he can go and do what he does best, what his grandmother taught him when he was a little boy, which is to make soap.”
Moyer says there is also room for more processors. She says manufacturers are interested in finished hemp fiber but few processors are looking into fiber production. She says those processors who are looking into fiber are small, but a strong fiber market would need a large processing facility that would chew through tons of hemp stalks a day.
The Kentucky Department of Agriculture is offering multi-year partnerships with processors to gather data on processing and marketing the crop. Moyer says the agreements make it easier for people to get involved with hemp.
“It takes away a little bit of the uncertainty that you have when you’re sitting here thinking, ‘should I invest $20,000 in a piece of equipment if I’m not guaranteed to be able to use it next year?’ So getting that out of the way was a big step,” Moyer said.
Moyer says she expects western Kentucky to see more hemp production once area farmers learn more about the crop.
“You know, it might not happen immediately because a lot of people will look at a map and say, ‘Hey, Lexington’s the place to be,’ until they realize what a powerhouse western Kentucky really is when it comes to agriculture,” Moyer said.
Moyer says the future of hemp in Kentucky looks promising. She adds there has also been strong movement toward industrial hemp legislation on the Federal level.