Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding opened the 2019 PA Hemp Summit, greeting more than 500 entrepreneurs eager to get in on the ground-level of Pennsylvania’s new hemp industry. Redding announced the availability of $460,000 in new state funding through Specialty Crop Block Grants created under the PA Farm Bill. Funding will be available to enhance the market for and competitiveness of crops, including hemp, which are designated as high priority because of their growth potential.
“We are building a new industry, literally from the ground up,” Secretary Redding said. “We’re here today to foster the conversations and provide the tools you need to seize the opportunity to build processing businesses, a supply chain, markets, and ultimately, sustainable income and new jobs. These grants will support projects that take us a step closer to a thriving hemp industry in Pennsylvania.”
The summit, co-hosted by the PA Department of Agriculture and Team Pennsylvania Foundation, offered resources for farmers, investors, processing, manufacturing and other businesses interested in pursuing opportunities from seed to sales. Experts from federal and state government, industry, finance and insurance worlds came together for the first time in Pennsylvania so that current and potential hemp producers could gather knowledge and inspiration to inform their business plans.
New state Specialty Crop Block Grants will be available to fund specialty crops not eligible under the federal specialty crop grant program, and those designated as high priority crops in the state: hemp, hops, hardwoods, honey; and barley, rye and wheat for distilling, brewing and malting. Eligible projects enhance the competitiveness and sustainability of specialty crops, for example, through research to increase conservation and environmental outcomes, enhance food safety, develop new and improved seed varieties, or improve pest and disease control. A percentage of funds will be designated to projects in rural communities with at least 20 percent of the population below the federal poverty line.
The new state Specialty Crop Block Grants are an element of the Pennsylvania Farm Bill, Governor Wolf’s bold, aggressive, and necessary investments in Pennsylvania agriculture to grow opportunities and resources, remove barriers to entry, and inspire future generations of agriculture leaders.