Midway, Kentucky — Tobacco farmers, legislators, agricultural economists, business and economics researchers, environmentalists, business owners, and several former governors, are expected to be in attendance at a one-day conference on the Midway College campus, in the McManis Student Center, beginning at 9 am on November 17. The conference, expected to attract an audience of 200 or more, will explore the economic potential of industrial hemp as a viable agricultural crop. Kentucky tobacco farmers have lost $264 million in revenues in the past two years as a result of decreases in tobacco quotas.
Conference sponsors are Midway Renaissance Corporation and Woodford County Cooperative Extension Service. Noting that Midway College is hosting the conference, Dr. Allyson Handley, president of Midway College, commented: “We are delighted to host a forum where farmers, government officials, scientists, and other interested citizens can meet to look at ways to help our farming community.”
Kentucky, prior to 1950, was the leading producer of hemp in the United States. Presently, it is illegal to grow hemp in Kentucky. The conference will address (1) the legal and economic implications of hemp production, and (2) whether hemp production, assuming legal problems could be worked out, would be profitable for Kentucky farmers.
Opening session speakers will be Midway College’s Dr. Allyson Handley; Becky Moore, mayor of Midway; and Louie B. Nunn, former governor of Kentucky. Cynthia Thielen, Hawaii State House of Representatives, will deliver the keynote address. Representative Thielen, a noted environmentalist, was instrumental in the passage of legislation in July 1999, authorizing industrial hemp research trials in Hawaii.
Focusing on the economic impact of hemp production in Kentucky will be Dr. Eric Thompson, UK Center for Business and Economic Research, lead author of “Economic Impact of Industrial Hemp in Kentucky,” and Valerie Vantreese, UK Department of Agricultural Economics, author of “Industrial Hemp: Global Operations, Local Implications.”
Among other participants scheduled to participate are: Dr. Carl Webster, Kentucky State University Aquaculture Research Center; State Representative Joe Barrows; Craig Lee, Kentucky Hemp Growers Museum; Paige Shumate Short, Kentucky Textiles; Donnie Coulter, Hemp-Fed Beef; Karen Armstrong-Cummins, Commodity Growers Cooperative; and Carolyn Oldfield, Thoroughbred Resource Council.
Registration fee of $15 includes lunch.
Students may attend for $10.
Exhibition space is $25.
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