Huff’s first hemp crop has been a bad learning experience – a $70,000 lesson

Posted February 5, 2020 at 3:42 pm


September Hemp.psd

In 2018, a Farm Bill passed which seemed to open up new possibilities for farmers in Kentucky.

SB 50, backed by Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, basically made Kentucky the ninth state to allow the growing and production of industrial hemp.

Locally, one farmer and his family took a risk on the crop and put out eight acres of hemp, which was one of only two farms in the county with a state issued license to grow hemp.

Now, the producer whose crop was featured in a September, 2019 article in the Clinton County News is regretting his decision to grow the crop due to being stuck with the product and no buyer to sell to.

“I noticed this article about the company we were going through to sell our hemp, how they were praising them and how many jobs they were going to create and so on, long story short, they weren’t taking my hemp,” Bobby Huff said.

Last year, Huff and his family planted around eight acres and were completely legal with the state of Kentucky to grow and harvest hemp.

“They kept putting me off saying they were full and didn’t have any room,” Huff said.

Huff said one day he received a call from the people at the company he had a contract to sell his hemp to and it wasn’t the owners he had originally dealt with.

“It was a different group who had purchased the Bluegrass Bioextracts,” Huff said. “We didn’t know about it and in a series of emails they basically said they would take the material, but it would take a while because they had to do some tests. I already had the test done. They said they would call and schedule a date to bring it up.”

A few days passed and Huff said the company never called, so he reached out again and they told him they would get his material around the first of the next week, which was around December 19 according to Huff.

“Somewhere around there, I got a call from a lady who worked over there and she said the EPA had shut them down,” Huff said. “This was like a day before I was going to take it up there. I started doing a little digging and there was no such thing from the EPA anywhere.”

After doing more research online, Huff said he got on to the Kentucky Hemp Growers web page and noticed several other hemp farmers with similar stories.

“I found out people had been taking hemp to Bluegrass Bioextracts after they told me they couldn’t take any more because of the EPA,” Huff said. “They were still receiving material, but they were just receiving material they wanted to receive … stuff they could buy for nothing basically.”

Huff said he and his family are on the hook for $70,000.

“I don’t see us getting paid anytime soon,” Huff said. “This stuff isn’t worth it to strip it. It would probably cost around $10,000 to strip and it’s not worth it. That’s why its still hanging.”

Even though Huff was optimistic in September about his hemp crop because he had signed a contract to sell, now he is looking at a major loss.

“This is on the State of Kentucky,” Huff said. “Ryan Quarles, who is our Ag Commissioner, he ran for re-election and ran about how hemp was the next big thing and how it was going to be the next big cash crop. It is just not. It is a false narrative. They’ve let it get to far. It’s just crazy that they have got away with it.”

Even though the 2018 Farm Bill removes hemp from the controlled substance list, no person can grow, handle, or process hemp plants, viable seed, leaf or floral materials without a hemp license issued by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.

In order to apply to get a license, Huff said there are several items you have to provide in order to be considered.

“You have to give them GPS coordinates, criminal background checks, you have to go to a training, and then, of course, there are some fees for licensing and stuff,” Huff said during an interview in August of last year.

Now, Huff said he plans on attending a meeting this week with a lawyer and several other farmers that will involve a class action suit.

“I really don’t care if I make any money. I just want my operating money back,” Huff said. “If they will pay me $70,000 I will go on my merry way and never say anything else about it.”

Huff said what has frustrated him more about the situation is the fact that the Kentucky Department of Agriculture is trying to get farmers to grow more.

“They are sending out 2020 applications,” Huff said. “I had to pay them $2,400 just to grow hemp, so now they are going to get another 1,000 people in the state to give them another $2,400 each. That’s a lot of money the state is going to get for us to just sit here on product that can’t be moved. Honestly they should scrap this program.”

Hemp derived CBD products are legal in Kentucky pursuant to 40 KRS 218A.010(27).

License holders investing at this early stage in the research should be aware that federal law is subject to change. There is uncertainty at the federal level on what parts of the hemp plant can be lawfully sold.

In September, 2019, Bobby Huff and his family were photographed by the Clinton County News standing in their first hemp crop. Now, Huff says that without a viable buyer, he’s stuck with a barn full of useless crop, shown at far right. He says that at this point, growing hemp in Kentucky has been a $70,000 mistake.