Pennsylvania Expands Industrial Hemp Research Opportunities – Weed News (blog)
After a successful inaugural year in which industrial hemp was reintroduced in Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Wolf today announced the commonwealth will significantly expand the opportunities for this promising agricultural crop in 2018. From fewer than 50 total acres in 2017, next season’s crop could cover 5,000 acres or more.
For 2018, the commonwealth will permit up to 50 individual growers or institutions of higher education to grow up to 100 acres apiece. Institutions of higher education also may partner with individual growers to produce larger quantities of hemp. Last year, the department limited the number of growers to 30, each of whom could grow no more than five acres.
“Hemp had a long history in Pennsylvania until it disappeared from the landscape half-a-century ago, but now, I’m excited that we’ve brought it back and we’re creating new agricultural opportunities in the process,” said Governor Wolf. “Last year was a learning experience for growers and the Department of Agriculture alike, but even with the small-scale research pilot projects of 2017, it was clear there is a tremendous enthusiasm among growers. Our expanded program is designed to capitalize on this interest in 2018.”
The 2014 federal Farm Bill paved the way for Governor Wolf to sign Pennsylvania’s Industrial Hemp Research Act (Act 92) into law on July 20, 2016, which allows researchers from institutions of higher education and individual growers contracting with the state Department of Agriculture to apply for permits to grow industrial hemp for research purposes.
“The 2017 growing season was incredibly informative for us,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “We learned about the challenges of sourcing seed, controlling weeds, harvesting, and finding markets. Each of last year’s 14 projects taught us something valuable and we’re pleased that every one of those project leaders are likely to reapply next year. We