WINCHESTER, Ky. (April 12, 2018) — Ninety-two-year old Kentucky farmer Jacob Graves applauded the filing of the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 as an opportunity for rural economic development, and the positive outcome of 25 years of advocacy.
“The relationships we’ve built over the years and the research and development company we started in 2014 are about to pay off,” said his son Andrew Graves, a seventh-generation hemp farmer. “We’re ready to scale up.”
With the filing today of the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has brought hemp to the threshold of the legal status Graves and other Kentucky farmers have worked for years to achieve.
“Hemp was a mainstay of our farms rotation throughout the 1800s, when Kentucky was known as the Hemp Capital of the World,” said Jacob Graves. “It was grown primarily for fiber in those days. The value of hemp for food and medicine (CBD) was largely unknown.”
After passage of the Federal Agricultural Act of 2014 enabled the Kentucky Hemp Pilot Program, the group founded Atalo Holdings, Inc. to work with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture to develop a scalable agronomic model for hemp production and processing. According to Andrew Graves, “We launched Atalo in 2014 with the intention of bringing hemp back to the American farmer, capitalizing on all of its attributes for food, fiber and wellness. Our team includes researchers, seed scientists, agronomists and expert farmers, including some very innovative young farmers.”
The Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s Hemp Pilot Program has allotted 2,700 acres for Atalo in 2018, making it one of the largest permitted growers in the US. According to Atalo records, there are currently 60 farmers with more than 150 employees farming Atalo’s acres across Kentucky and their Hemp Research Campus is expanding to accommodate new processing – all pointing to increased rural economic development.
“The hemp market is expected to surpass $2 billion by 2022 for CBD alone,” said Andrew Graves, now chairman of Atalo Holdings, “and as I said before, we’re ready to scale up and Senator McConnell’s filing of the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 is a huge step in the that direction.