University of Kentucky hemp-research farm a ‘total loss’ after deadly tornadoes

A university research farm hailed for advancing the hemp industry through its hemp trials and pilot research program was leveled by a string of deadly tornadoes that passed through the state Friday.

The University of Kentucky’s Research and Education Center in Princeton, Kentucky, was among state agriculture industry casualties, according to state ag Commissioner Ryan Quarles.

University President Eli Capilouto said as many as 100 or more people died “in what’s been described as the worst night of storms in our state’s long history” and that Extension agents and agriculture officials were rallying to work in counties across the state to provide support, “even as we were dealing with damages to critical UK facilities in Western Kentucky.”

According to Jeff Franklin, a communications officer for the University of Kentucky Extension, the facility, which in 2020 was renovated and renamed the Grain and Forage Center of Excellence, was destroyed, though no one was injured during the storm, AgWeb reported.

Hemp research trials have long been conducted at the facility, along with work on other crops.

In a social media post, Quarles said the Kentucky Department of Agriculture is assessing the devastation so it can help agricultural producers and residents with relief efforts.

“We are working with Kentucky Farm Bureau and Extension to gather specific requests so we do not duplicate efforts. Expect more on ag efforts soon,” Quarles said.