Remember hemp? Agriculture Commissioner James Comer is moving fast since the greenlight from the farm bill. As part of his announcement for Appalachia Proud: Mountains of Potential (an initiative to encourage farming in the hard-hit areas of Eastern Kentucky), he also announced on Monday five pilot projects for growing industrial hemp.
(Side note, Senator Paul was there on Monday to show his support as well as to discuss how Economic Freedom Zones can benefit Kentucky.)
Out of the five pilot projects, one is being coordinated with Homegrown by Heroes (which provides jobs for veterans) and the other will study whether or not hemp crops can be used to clean up urban brownfields or land previously used for industrial purposes.
Meanwhile, Comer cautioned that “the first year of hemp production likely will focus on research and development, he said.”
“You’re not going to see any major industries spring up, I don’t think, because we’ve got a lot of research and development to do, from a basic agriculture production standpoint, before we can really encourage farmers to move (forward) with this,” he told the Courier-Journal.
While the pilot programs for hemp are great news, it may be a while before industrial hemp will be at a stage to adequately cover for the hits being taken by coal miners. Last month, southeastern Kentucky (including the counties of Bell, Clay, Harlan, Knox, Leslie, Letcher, Perry and Whitley) was designated a “Promise Zone” by Obama, but this doesn’t change the fact that Obama’s War on Coal put these people out of work to begin with. It’s not a fact lost on Paul who is doing what he can to help coal miners.
Change is unfortunately inevitable in some industries (out with the old, in with the new) but there are questions about whether the EPA is going about it the right way or not. It ranges from the EPA forcing unproven technology (carbon capture and storage or CCS) on the coal industry to using regulations originally intended for cars (“Tailpipe Rule“) to restrict coal plants. It’s true that Senator Mitch McConnell and Rand have a stake in the War on Coal but look closer.
Good cause or not, should the EPA have free-reign to push whatever regulations they like? If you’re thinking what I’m thinking, comment below or even better share your thoughts on Facebook.
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