LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Now that industrial hemp is legal nationwide, regulators in Kentucky are working to set themselves apart from other states looking to cash in on the commodity.
There are still steps that need to be taken over the next year that the Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture said are necessary for the program to continue its success.
Commissioner Ryan Quarles said an environment that encourages processors to use what farmers grow needs to be fostered further.
He added that he’ll be working with bankers to ensure those in the new industry have the financial support they need, as the state’s research program transitions into a marketable commodity.
Quarles said state lawmakers plan to introduce a bill to keep the state in federal hemp compliance this session.
Quarles also said he expects the industry to grow.
He said over 1,000 farmers are now registered to grow hemp in Kentucky - a 500 percent increase since last year.
The commissioner said he'll be working with the federal government as more guidelines are laid out.
He added other legislative priorities include modernizing the licensing of grain and ensuring new technology creating lab produced meat is not marketed as the meat we currently know now.
"I think most Kentuckians would rather have a steak that came from an animal, including myself,” Quarles said. “So, we're going to make sure that we have a resolution that helps protect the marketing side, and differentiates between traditional meat that comes from four hooves versus something that comes from a lab."
Quarles said lab produced meats are still years away from commercialization, but he wanted to take a preemptive measure to protect farmers in Kentucky.