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5 Takeaways from the 2019 Kentucky Hemp Industries Association Annual Conference

Hemp Conference

It’s hard to describe the combination of excitement and uncertainty that exists at Kentucky Hemp & CBD Conferences. On one hand, the industry is rapidly expanding and there is opportunity abound. On the other, it’s unclear what actually is going to happen regarding regulations and the impact this regulatory framework will have on the ceiling for all these new businesses. Regardless of the uncertainty, a thriving ecosystem is quickly taking shape and Kentucky Hemp and CBD currently sits at the epicenter of a transformational commodity revival.

As the founder of a CBD company, Half Day CBD, I am committed to sourcing American Hemp and I wanted front row seats at the 2019 Annual Conference for the Kentucky Hemp Industries Association (KYHIA). Staying up to date on all Hemp happenings is crucial in this highly dynamic market. The sessions were all informative, but I wanted to highlight my five biggest takeaways from a full day of education and networking.

If you have anything to add, please do so in the comments.

1. The number of new Kentucky farmers getting into Hemp is exploding

Just look at the YoY change from 2018-2019 in terms of Hemp growers in Kentucky alone.


  • 210 Licensed Growers
  • 16,100 Approved Acres
  • 6,700 Acres Planted


  • 1,075 Licensed Growers
  • 45,250 requested acres
  • Acres to be planted – TBD

That’s a 411% increase in the number of growers!!!! Hundreds of farmers are dedicating their land to growing this crop for the very first time. That’s a lot of rookies on the field playing ball. If you ask any experienced Hemp grower, the first year is rough and never yields what you are hoping for. Despite the risk, Kentucky farmers are ready to embrace Hemp cultivation and moving the industry a giant leap forward.

Fun Fact

In case you were wondering, the average yield of Kentucky Hemp CBD flower per acre is 1,024 lbs. Although data suggests only 42% of approved acres are actually farmed, you are still looking at the state of Kentucky to produce $19.4M+ pounds of Hemp flower this year. Does anyone want to help me start a Hemp storage company? Something tells me there will be some leftovers that will need to be refrigerated.

2. The federal government gallops while everyone else races to win the Derby

The good folks from the USDA and FDA (back at work after the government shut down) have been on the record letting the industry know that although the Farm Bill has passed, they are not going to hastily publish rules. It’s within good reason because the timing has everything to do with fear of creating a speculator land grab scenario, stifling the industry before it even gets started. Same with CBD, they recognize the market demand but want to create rules that create clear guidelines that apply to pharma, supplements, food, and farming. Juggling the needs of these four mega industries is no small task.

However, while these meetings and hearings carry on; the market clamors, investments are being made, and seeds are getting planted. Everyone is running at Hemp full speed and hoping the government does right by the farmer and entrepreneur. No need to worry, right?

3. Hemp is not purely a synonym for CBD

If you read the headlines you would think Kentucky Hemp is a synonym for CBD. That’s hardly the case. Companies like Sunstrand are building the infrastructure to support a resurgence in Hemp fiber for construction, textiles, and countless other materials. In addition, so many of the educational sessions were designed around university studies about Hemp seed and growing conditions to support specific Hemp use cases.

Another important figure reported by the Kentucky Agriculture Commission are the number of growers who applied to grow Fiber and Grain.  

2019 Applications

  • 1,009 applications planning to grow Flower
  • 330 applicants planning to grow Fiber
  • 248 applicated planning to grow Grain

For generations, the American economy brimmed with Hemp fiber and grain producers and it will be interesting to see Hemp find it’s a foothold in industries that are dominated by plastics.

4. CBD is old news, let’s talk about Terpenes!

I had a chance to get educated by Jana Groda at One Love Hemp Dispensary and I walked away with a new appreciation for Terpenes. For those that don’t know, Terpenes are complex organic compounds that are generated by botanicals. Terpenes exist in Cannabis, but they also exist in citrus, hops, flowers, and even insects. CBD can be fairly homogenous, but terpenes can really set a product apart.

For me, the big takeaway is the role that terpenes play in how you enjoy CBD products. Beyond the diverse series of odors, terpenes can create energy, relaxation and improved mood. They can recreate any strain without the psychoactive effect and often do taste testing events to enhance beverages and CBD products. You better believe at Half Day CBD we are designing all of our products with terpenes in mind.

More about Terpenes

5. Kentucky is a leader and other states would be wise to follow

It’s not a coincidence that while Kentucky has more than 1,000 farmers growing Kentucky Hemp and CBD this year, most agriculture states are still stuck at zero. Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles is deservingly proud of the role Kentucky has played in capitalizing on a rapidly changing paradigm. The number of jobs and new economic opportunity that is expected to come to the state will surpass $300 million this year.

Ryan Quarles is clearing the way politically, the unsung hero is Doris Hamilton. If you don’t know that name and you’re involved in Hemp, shame on you. The growth of any Industrial Hemp program has everything to do with her leadership and patience.

Even when I was getting started, she would succinctly and sufficiently answer all my stupid questions and be quick with her email responses. The loudest round of applause of the day came when she and her team were recognized at the event.

Check out this throwback video of Doris taking everyone to school about Hemp back in 2016.

Every state needs a Doris. Thanks Doris.

Keep it movin’

What’s happening in the Hemp industry is a once in a generation deal. It’s fun to be a part of and I encourage everyone to follow along. This story is far from over.  

Leave a comment with your insights from the conference or reach out to me at if you’re looking to learn more and partner up.

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