HOLD THE HEMP: Farmers say they’re losing green because of processing company

Local News

HANCOCK COUNTY, Ky (WEHT) — After a Daviess County hemp processor was bought out by a Nevada-based company, some farmers that signed contracts with the company worry they may be out a lot of green.

This week, the former owner of Bluegrass BioExtracts filed a $69 million dollar lawsuit against current owner, Nevada-based DTEC ventures.

The lawsuit claims that the new owners have not followed through on the purchase agreement.

Farmers are not plaintiffs in the lawsuit, but they say they’ve been hit where it hurts: their wallets.

Hancock County farmer Mark Allen is one of them.

“It’s not the pipe dream we were promised.”

He says he signed a contract with Owensboro-based Bluegrass BioExtracts, promising $4 point per pound. But then, he said, came a catch when his test results came back.

“They said it had pesticides in it. The test didn’t read pesticides.”

In a copy of the test results obtained by Eyewitness News, the pesticide levels are shown to be below the limit of quantification.

Ohio County grower Dr. John Fuller said his experience is similar.

“They sent us an email stating our crop had heavy metal in it, and to come pick it up.”

Now, Allen’s crop is sitting in his barn. Some of Fuller’s is still sitting in Bluegrass’s Owensboro facility, which shut down earlier this month.

Fuller says he believes the company could have used inaccurate testing to justify rejecting crops, after farmers were told the market price for hemp had dropped.

 “When we did our own independent testing from five different labs […] all of them came back non-detect for heavy metals.”

Allen says other farmers he knows have also resorted to independent testing. In the meantime, he asked what he could recover in cash.

 “He just said 80 cents … point per pound. I just said there’s no way I can do that.” 

Fuller says he hasn’t heard much from BioExtracts new owner DTEC Ventures, LLC.

“They’re very difficult to get ahold of unless you threaten them with a lawsuit.”

There was no answer when Eyewitness News called a manager’s cellphone. Dr. Fuller says he’d like to see tighter business restrictions, possible criminal prosecution, and payment to the farmers.

“I know farmers that have mortgaged their homes, put their farms up.”

Amanda: What are you going to do? 
Mark Allen: “…..Just keep praying.” 

Allen says he just wants to see that contract honored so he can maybe make more room for another crop.

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(This story was originally published on January 23, 2020)

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