Mitch McConnell speaks about hemp at GenCanna event in Winchester

Published: Apr. 23, 2019 at 5:22 PM EDT
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Since the federal legalization of hemp across the United States, nearly 100 Kentucky counties have started growing the crop. Those numbers nearly match the number of declining tobacco producers in the state, according to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

"1997 there were 46,000 tobacco producers. In 2017, 20 years later, 2,600. I hope that hemp will be for us some day what tobacco was at its peak,” said McConnell.

McConnell and Kentucky Agricultural Commissioner Ryan Quarles were in Clark County Tuesday talking about the benefits hemp brings to the Bluegrass. The pair were visiting GenCanna’s hemp research campus in Winchester.

GenCanna works with scientists, farmers, and others in the agriculture industry to combine genetic research, breeding, cultivation and harvesting programs.

Today, GenCanna’s President Steve Bevan announced a new endeavor he says could bring even more benefits to the industry: zero percent THC hemp.

While GenCanna’s initial trails with the new zero percent hemp have been in greenhouses, Bevan says this year his company is hoping to mass produce the crop at farms to continue its research.

"This year our research is going to go from indoors in greenhouses to outdoors on a couple of select farms. Sometimes what happens in a controlled situation doesn't quite go the way you want and sometimes it really does,” Bevan said.