FRANKFORT, Ky. (6/11/13) – Agriculture Commissioner James Comer applauded Gov. Steve Beshear’s letter to President Barack Obama asking the federal government to identify economic opportunities from the production of industrial hemp.
“I welcome the Governor’s partnership in this effort and for bringing this important issue to the President’s attention,” Commissioner Comer said. “We have to start talking very seriously about job creation in this state, and I think we are going to have to look for new, creative ways to help our farmers and agriculture community. And if we are going to move Kentucky forward, Republicans and Democrats will have to work together.”
Comer said he asked the governor to submit the letter, and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul made a similar request. In the letter, Gov. Beshear asked that the U.S. attorney general, agriculture secretary, Office of National Drug Control Policy, and Drug Enforcement Administration work together “to identify economic opportunities in the hemp industry that do not negatively impact [Kentucky’s] drug eradication efforts.”
The Kentucky General Assembly in March passed Senate Bill 50, which state Sen. Paul Hornback sponsored and Comer supported, establishing an administrative framework for industrial hemp production in Kentucky. In April, Commissioner Comer headed a bipartisan delegation to Washington, where he met with members of Kentucky’s congressional delegation, House Speaker John Boehner, and representatives of federal agencies to urge them to legalize hemp production in Kentucky.
Comer pointed out that his chief of staff meets regularly with Gov. Beshear’s chief of staff and executive director of the Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy to discuss issues facing Kentucky agriculture. “We want to keep the lines of communication open and take the politics out of agricultural policy so we can better serve the industry,” Comer said. “My office and the governor’s people are working closely so we can deal with agricultural issues in a coordinated, bipartisan manner.”
Information provided by Ted Sloan
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