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Hemp Farming in Alabama: Q&A With Kyle Neathery, CEO of Samson Extracts

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In recent years, the landscape of hemp farming has undergone significant upheavals across the United States, marked by tight regulations and oversupply. This volatile environment has posed challenges for many farmers, leading to financial setbacks and hesitancy to re-enter the industry. However, amidst these challenges, there are pockets of innovation and resilience, particularly in regions like Alabama. With its deep history of agricultural production, Alabama presents a unique backdrop for hemp cultivation. While the climate in the northern areas is generally conducive to hemp growth, challenges such as sand-based soil in the southern regions must be navigated. Despite these hurdles, Alabama is home to around 60 hemp farmers, with substantial acreage dedicated to various hemp products, including cannabidiol (CBD), fiber, and grain. Against this backdrop, one company stands out for its efforts to promote hemp farming and drive economic growth in the region: Samson Extracts.

Enter Kyle Neathery, the CEO of Samson Extracts, a key player in Alabama's burgeoning hemp industry. Samson Extracts is actively engaged in rebuilding and promoting hemp farming in the South, recognizing the potential of hemp-derived products in the wake of impending changes to the Farm Bill. MyCannabis had a chat with Neathery to learn more about how he and his team are working tirelessly to ensure the growth and success of hemp farming in Alabama.

Can you provide a brief overview of the current state of hemp farming in Alabama, including any unique challenges or advantages the region presents for hemp cultivation?

Alabama has a deep history of agricultural production, and the existing infrastructure in the state has given us a unique advantage. Our climate is generally well suited for hemp growth in the northern areas, but in southern Alabama you might run into some issues with sand-based soil.

There are currently about 60 hemp farmers across Alabama, and in 2023, over 136 acres were planted across the state, specifically for cannabidiol. Approximately 95 acres were planted for hemp fiber, and 15 acres were planted for grain and seed.

How is Samson Extracts actively engaging with the local community in Alabama to promote hemp farming, and what initiatives are in place to encourage farmers to adopt good agricultural practices?

We are really trying to help encourage and rebuild hemp farming in the South, as we expect this to be a big year for the hemp-derived products market with the impending changes to the Farm Bill. The oversupply we faced in 2019 and 2020 did some serious financial damage to many of the farmers across the nation, and though we see a lot of hesitancy to jump back into the industry, we are trying to prepare our local farmers and the wider community for an upcoming tide shift.

By solidifying a great reputation in the industry, we hope farmers will recognize that Samson Extracts is a trusted partner to grow biomass for, therefore minimizing the risk for them to get involved and increasing the adoption of hemp farming across the board.

Could you share insights into the innovative technologies or agricultural practices that Samson Extracts employs to ensure high-quality hemp production and cost-effectiveness in the manufacturing process?

Due to the sheer amount of biomass we are extracting at Samson, we had to think outside the box when it came to setting up our facility. We have adapted and utilized equipment from the oil and gas, agricultural and juicing industries, creating a system completely unlike any other in the hemp space.

As opposed to the batch-style processing that you commonly see in cannabis extraction, we use large-scale automation, which eliminates manual intervention and significantly boosts efficiency. We will also be implementing continuous flow processing shortly; between that and the use of unconventional equipment, we are able to distill more consistently while keeping our costs down.

How has the expansion of hemp farming and Samson Extracts' operations influenced the local economy in Alabama, and are there plans for further economic development through hemp-related initiatives?

We are located in a town with a population of only 4,500 and jobs within the city lines are hard to come by. We are proud that Samson Extracts has been able to add job opportunities to the market; we currently employ over 30+ Alabamians at our extraction facility.

In terms of plans for further economic development, we have applied for an integrated license and in the meantime we are launching our own direct-to-consumer CBD wellness brand this year. With medical cannabis being kicked down the road every month, we are happy to be able to still provide some sort of medicine to our residents through hemp products.

Given the importance of sustainability in modern agriculture, what sustainable farming practices is Samson Extracts promoting or implementing to minimize environmental impact in hemp cultivation?

We are always looking at ways we can eliminate waste, whether through creating new uses for byproducts or recycling expended materials. For example, we have retained all of our unspent biomass and have been testing it out as pelletized fertilizer on our soil. This turned out to be so successful that we recently purchased a pelletizer, and are moving forward with producing fertilizer from the byproduct of our extraction.

Looking ahead, what do you envision for the future of hemp farming in Alabama, and how does Samson Extracts plan to contribute to the growth and success of the industry in the region?

Great question. Samson is in it for the long haul; while the national market is seeing some downsizing on both the farming and extraction sides, we have forged relationships with farmers as well as producers to make sure we remain one of the Top 10 processors by biomass extraction volume in the United States — and we only have plans to grow. We are on track for a threefold increase in production in 2024, and with this growth we expect to be able to continue to provide job opportunities to area residents.

It was a great pleasure to have this conversation with Kyle Neathery, the CEO of Samson Extracts. Readers wishing to learn more about Samson Extracts are encouraged to check out their website.

Lydia K. (Bsc. RN) is a cannabis writer, which, considering where you’re reading this, makes perfect sense. Currently, she is a regular writer for Mace Media. In the past, she has written for MyBud, RX Leaf & Dine Magazine (Canada), CBDShopy (UK) and Cannavalate & Pharmadiol (Australia). She is best known for writing epic news articles and medical pieces. Occasionally, she deviates from news and science and creates humorous articles. And boy doesn't she love that! She equally enjoys ice cream, as should all right-thinking people.