The number-one goal of James Comer as the next Commissioner of Agriculture is to grow and expand markets for Kentucky farm products. The number-two goal is to enhance rural economic development. Industrial hemp can be a viable option to accomplish both goals.
Industrial hemp is an alternative crop (recently touted by former Gov. Louie B. Nunn) which can thrive on Kentucky's soils and long growing seasons. It requires few pesticides and fertilizer which gives it a positive economic impact. It has many current uses including specialty papers, animal bedding, ropes and foods. It has many potential uses in the areas of automobile parts, replacements for fiberglass, upholstery and carpets. It can also be an integral part of making Kentucky a leader in the energy and bio-fuels market due to the fact that ethanol can be produced efficiently from industrial hemp.
Industrial hemp can also play a leading role in combating Kentucky's illegal drug problem. Industrial hemp production would be a nightmare for marijuana growers because Industrial help would cross-pollinate and destroy marijuana in its vicinity.
Industrial hemp needs to be processed within 25-50 miles of where it is grown. The Kentucky Department of Agriculture could work with farmers to create processing plants in rural, economically depressed areas that were once tobacco dependent but now are struggling to replace tobacco as the leading cash crop. This win-win scenario increases markets for Kentucky farmers and creates good paying jobs for rural Kentuckians.
Jamie will work to pass Sen. Joey Pendleton's (D-Hopkinsville) Senate Bill 30 which would simply definite industrial hemp and allow the Kentucky Department of Agriculture to issue licenses and promulgate administrative regulations to carry out the act.
Jamie will bring all of the stakeholders together to end the false rhetoric about industrial hemp and make it a reality. He will include all law enforcement agencies (both local, state and federal) farm commodity group leaders, state and federal legislators, and economic development representatives. Industrial hemp can be an alternative crop for Kentucky's farmers desperately seeking a replacement to tobacco. James R. Comer is the only candidate for Agriculture Commissioner with the credibility and close ties to all the stakeholders to make it happen.
Industrial hemp advisory committee:
Sen. Joey Pendleton, Hopkinsville
Craig Lee, Campbellsville
Norman Davis, Clarkson
John Riley, Taylorsville