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Publication Title | Industrial Hemp Production

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University of Kentucky CDBREC Home

CDBREC Crop Pro les

College of Agriculture

Industrial Hemp



Industrial hemp (Cannabis sativa) is a versatile plant that can be grown for its ber, seed, or oil. Hemp elds were once a common site in Kentucky during the state’s prominence as the leading hemp producer in the U.S. Although commercial hemp production ceased throughout North America in the late 1950s, there is currently renewed interest in once again growing this crop. While hemp faces signi cant legal obstacles due to its close relationship to the marijuana plant, there are a number of states, including Kentucky, working toward reviving the hemp industry.

This pro le is intended to provide an overview of hemp cultivation and economics should this crop become legalized for commercial production in the Commonwealth. For more information on the current situation of industrial hemp, refer to the companion pro le “Industrial Hemp — Legal Issues.”


Hemp bers have been used to manufacture hundreds of products that include twine, paper, construction materials, carpeting, clothing, and animal bedding. Seeds have been used in making industrial oils, cosmetics and other personal care products, and medicines. Hemp seed or oil can be found in cooking oil, salad dressings, pasta, and snack products. This crop also

IndustrIal hemp grown for graIn and fIber In france.

or manufactured from imported hemp. American food processors and product manufacturers using imported hemp seed oil and hemp ber could be interested in a domestic product. Because of the need for processing plants to process hemp from eld production, and the apparent lack of such industry in the U.S., substantial infrastructure development would be required for pro table U.S. farm production. Substantial research and infrastructure development would also be required for new uses of hemp, such as biofuels.

Market Outlook

The fact that the production of hemp is legally prohibited in the United States has not deterred substantial interest in the feasibility of U.S.- grown industrial hemp. Many production and market feasibility studies have been conducted by both federal and state research institutions. A number of these studies are listed and summarized in a 2012 Congressional Research Service report, “Hemp as an Agricultural Commodity.” This

study, like others, notes that potential U.S. producers face not only existing regulatory

has potential as a biofuel.

Currently all hemp products prohibitions on industrial

sold in the U.S. are imported

hemp, but also substantial

Agriculture & Natural Resources • Family & Consumer Sciences • 4-H/Youth Development • Community & Economic Development

Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability, or national origin.

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