Pubdate: Fri, 25 Jun 1999
Source: Lexington Herald-Leader (KY)
Copyright: 1999 Lexington Herald-Leader
Section: Business
Contact:  606-255-7236
Author: Janet Patton, Business Writer


PARIS -- The Body Shop met the tack shop yesterday on a Bourbon County
horse farm. "This is what Kentucky should be," said Andy Graves, president
of the Kentucky Hemp Growers Cooperative Association. "Tobacco, horses ..."
 "And hemp," finished Anita Roddick, founder and co-chair of The Body Shop,
a $1.3 billion British-based international skin products company that uses
hemp in a handful of its most successful products. Roddick and Graves
visited Arthur Hancock's Stone Farm yesterday to witness an experiment in
the comforts hemp could bring to horses. A stall on the Hancock farm was
filled with hemp animal bedding made from the hurds, the pulp of the stalk.

The bedding, imported from Canada, costs about $5 a bag, Graves said, but
it lasts longer than straw or wood chips and composts faster. "It's three
times more absorbent than cotton," he said. The hurd bedding clumps
together, somewhat like cat litter.

And that could speed up the cleaning of the stalls, Hancock said. Instead
of taking all morning to clean a barn, the manure and urine clumps could be
removed in minutes.

At 16 barns every day, "that adds up over a year's time," he said. Hancock
plans to test it beginning today with one of his top yearlings -- McCreary,
a colt who has the same sire as Bluegrass Stakes winner Menifee. "Think
about this for yearlings," Hancock said as he tested the cushioning in the
stall. "A lot more shock absorbing." The co-op plans to bring some of the
bedding to Darby Dan farm in Fayette County and let managers at both farms
share their thoughts on the product. "This could be a good source of
alternative bedding for us," said David Switzer, executive director of the
Kentucky Thoroughbred Association -- especially if the cost is brought down
by growing it here in Kentucky. However, it is illegal to grow hemp as an
industrial crop in the United States. The Drug Enforcement Administration
bans hemp because it is considered legally the same as marijuana.

At least four states have passed laws allowing it to be grown if the DEA
grants them permits. Hancock wouldn't mind raising hemp along with horses
and tobacco. "I think it could be a good cash crop," he said. "As a
Kentucky farmer, the only thing I've been able to make money on is tobacco
and horses." Hemp is a market Roddick would like to help Kentucky farmers
get into. The Body Shop's philosophy of providing naturally based products
in a way that is both environmentally and economically sustainable has led
to many partnerships with growers' cooperatives. Roddick offered her
financial assistance to the Kentucky Hemp Growers Cooperative Association
in Kentucky. She paid for the newspaper and radio ads publicizing the
co-op's annual convention Saturday. Her company began selling products
incorporating hemp oil about 2 years ago, and the seven or eight products
now account for 10 percent of total sales, Roddick said. She buys 12 tons
of organic hemp seed oil a year and imports it to the United States.
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