MURRAY, Ky. — Murray State University has announced a new Center for Agricultural Hemp, cementing its position in the forefront as a leader in research, education, policy and innovation within the hemp industry. The center will be administered by the university’s Hutson School of Agriculture in coordination with industry partners.
Industry leaders, companies and individuals who wish to partner with Murray State’s vision for this center are encouraged to contact Dr. Tony Brannon, dean of the Hutson School of Agriculture, at [email protected], Dr. Brian Parr, assistant dean of the Hutson School of Agriculture, at [email protected], or by calling (270) 809-3936.
With the leadership of U.S. Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., who first introduced and requested Murray State’s involvement in the Kentucky Department of Agriculture pilot program as commissioner, hemp legislation and policy has developed quickly.
“The passage of the 2018 Farm Bill was the final step in bringing agricultural hemp into the mainstream of America’s agriculture commodities,” Comer said. “Murray State was the first university in America to participate in the very first hemp pilot program. Today, Murray State’s Hutson School of Agriculture is one of the leading agricultural hemp schools in the nation.”
CV Sciences, a preeminent supplier and manufacturer of industry-dominating hemp CBD brand, PlusCBD Oil, has been named as a foundational partner for this center. Donors at the foundational partner level will become part of the center leadership roundtable to develop and implement center activities.
“Since providing the first hemp seeds for planting in 2014, CV Sciences has been committed to investing in the valuable work that Dr. Tony Brannon and Murray State University’s Hutson School of Agriculture have conducted to elevate the hemp industry and its research efforts,” stated Josh Hendrix, director of Domestic Hemp Production at CV Sciences and president of the U.S. Hemp Roundtable. “The development of this center will devote focused attention on hemp as it grows into the valuable commodity it is, and we are pleased to continue our partnership.”
The university’s leadership within the area of hemp exploration is historic and diverse within higher education. Murray State planted the first legal agricultural hemp research plot on May 12, 2014. Since that time, the university has been on the front line of exploration of the crop, hosting field days while continually working with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, local farmers, researchers, legislators, companies and partners to assist in the development of the industry within the region and commonwealth.
The 2018 Farm Bill, which reclassified hemp as an agricultural commodity, has continued to extend excitement and further interest toward the crop and its many possibilities. In the past five years, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture pilot program has expanded exponentially under the leadership of Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles. The KDA recently approved an expansion in planting to include up to 50,000 acres in the 2019 crop production year, with a substantial amount of this acreage within Murray State’s service region.
“I applaud the efforts by Murray State University and its leadership in pursuing plans to develop the Murray State University Center for Agricultural Hemp,” Quarles said. “Murray State and Dr. Tony Brannon have been researching hemp since the beginning of the KDA program. As long as I am commissioner, Kentucky’s universities will serve a critical role in making Kentucky the epicenter of agricultural hemp nationwide.”
Since the very beginning the university leadership and administration have been very supportive of Murray State’s agricultural hemp involvement.
“We are very excited that the Hutson School of Agriculture at Murray State University, as a national leader in agricultural hemp development, will establish a Center for Agricultural Hemp in order to conduct research and development initiatives for this important agricultural commodity,” said Murray State University President Dr. Bob Jackson. “Agricultural hemp has been a major part of Kentucky’s history, and we are looking forward to continuing our role as a national leader in its renewal as an important part of our agricultural economy.”
In addition to a substantial increase in student enrollment, Murray State’s Hutson School of Agriculture has added many new programs and initiatives to support student interest for innovative and emerging careers, the latest such being the creation of the Center for Agricultural Hemp.
“Kentucky is positioned to be the epicenter of agricultural hemp in the nation and Murray State is definitely on the fault line,” Brannon said. “This industry has expanded rapidly in our service region, with either processing or growing operations throughout the region and along a continuous line from Kevil, Bardwell, Clinton, Mayfield, Murray, Cadiz, Hopkinsville, Eddyville, Dawson Springs, Madisonville and Henderson. We are excited that Murray State’s Board of Regents, University administration, the KDA, our Murray State agriculture students, and the general farming and agricultural community are solidly behind this initiative.”
The center will focus on several primary topics and initiatives involving agronomy, cannabinoid science, agribusiness, economics and finance, animal feeds and fibers, education, hemp policy, workforce development and agricultural hemp farming.
Said Brannon: “We are excited about this center and invite those who would like to align with us as partners or donors to come join us as we reinvent this historic commonwealth of Kentucky crop while bringing important economic activity to our region.”