Updated: Jan 18, 2019
Hemp made a comeback in Kentucky during World War II, again after the loss of imported fibers from the Philippines. An program to grow hemp was developed and the U.S. contracted farmers to grow hemp exclusively for government use, offering tax incentives. The government also invested capital inputs, from free seeds to government-build mills, so that hemp production would be profitable.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) even released a short film "Hemp For Victory" in 1942 encouraging farmers to grow hemp for war efforts. The film mentions Kentucky 13 times and plays "My Old Kentucky Home" starting at minute marker 3:10. Watch the full video below.
Kentucky was chosen as the site for seed production and 36,000 acres were planted in 1942. During 1943 and 1944, Kentucky and a handful of other states produced 60 million pounds of fiber for the war. An article in The Mountain Eagle urged Letcher County, Kentucky Farmers to Grow Hemp, calling it an essential war crop during 1943.
Click here to learn more about Kentucky hemp production during WWII.