Hemp farmers in Harrison County, Kentucky, have filed a lawsuit against hemp processing company, Gencanna Global Incorporated, for ripping them off of millions of dollars meant for research and development of new products.
Hemp farmers such as Kendall Henson and Ben Furnish, who are 8th generation farmers with degrees in economics, switched to hemp farming after tobacco sales plummeted. The two signed a contract with Gencanna back in 2016 and were excited about the possibility of growing hemp.
According to Henson and Furnish, Gencanna was very hands-on in the beginning by providing farmers with education on hemp growth and how to get high yields. After Kentucky started its hemp pilot program, Gencanna opened a plant in Winchester from where they supplied farmers with seeds. In return, they took their crop to the company for processing after harvesting. Their working relationship was good in the year 2016 and 2017.
According to the two farmers, the business was at the peak in 2018 as their 76 acres of hemp fetched a pretty sum of $1.8 million.
The company approached them in 2019 with a proposal to expand their operations, whereby they would convince farmers to grow 500 acres’ worth of hemp. The company would also require them to dry the crop after harvesting, said Furnish.
The deal, which according to their attorney, Scott White, would have fetched them a sum of 15-20 million dollars was to be sealed in February 2019 but stalled after they brought in other farmers into the deal.
In an interview with LEX 18, Henson and Furnish said that near the end of June, Gencanna had not sent seeds for planting nor the agreement; however, Gencanna later sent a contract which was different from their original discussions.
The contract stipulated that before they are given seeds for planting, they must first sign the contract; it was already late in the year for the farmers to make a new deal with a new company, said Furnish.
In their communications with Gencanna, the company assured them that everything was still on track. But when they enquired about the drying process or the signing of the agreement, Gencanna stopped communicating and did not reply to their emails, said Henson.
It was late in August when the farmers learned through an email that their deal was off, and to make it worse, the company supplied them with low-quality seeds. This year the farmers expect to incur millions of dollars in losses.
The lawsuit is to show the company what happens to those who dupe farmers and also serve as a warning to others planning to rip off hemp farmers.
Hemp industry watchers believe hemp companies like Dama Financial and LiveWire Ergogenics Inc. (OTC: LVVV) could be dismayed that some companies are putting the livelihoods of farmers at risk in the way that the two Kentucky farmers above allege.
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