For more than 100 years, Jane Harrod’s family set aside a corner of their farm to grow tobacco. The 20 acres they grew when she was a girl was only a fraction of the 400 acres the family owned outside Lexington, Ky., but it promised good money, about $1,000 an acre.
“Most all of us farmers raised some tobacco,” said Harrod, 63. “Tobacco definitely put the clothes on our backs when we were kids.”
But tobacco isn’t the reliable cash crop it once was. That has Harrod and hundreds of other farmers across the South revisiting a plant from deep in the region’s past: industrial hemp.
Known as marijuana’s non-potent cousin, hemp is not likely to replace the billions of dollars that tobacco once provided, but proponents such as Harrod say they’re willing to take a chance on a crop they hope will breathe new life into the South’s family farms. [Read more at The Washington Post]