Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Fred Strathmeyer announced new upcoming opportunities for hemp growers, processors, and investors to plan for a bright future for Pennsylvania’s new, old crop.
“Hemp is back in Pennsylvania in a really strong way,” said Deputy Strathmeyer, “We want to give this industry every opportunity to capitalize on the booming global market for hemp.”
With assistance from Team Pennsylvania, the department will hold Pennsylvania’s inaugural Hemp Summit in October. The summit will serve as a bridge to connect hemp farmers, processors, investors, and supporting industries with hemp industry experts from across the country and internationally, and provide an opportunity to learn, network, and grow to benefit the future in Pennsylvania hemp.
“Between this summit and Governor Tom Wolf’s Pennsylvania Farm Bill, 2020 will be a turning point for hemp in our state,” said Deputy Strathmeyer. “These are very intentional investments in a crop with big possibilities for Pennsylvania agriculture.”
This summer, Governor Wolf signed the PA Farm Bill, a comprehensive package of legislation that will create a state-level Specialty Crop Block Grant Program to invest in and encourage farming of high-priority crops like hemp. Eligible projects must enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops by improving distribution, efficiency, or research to boost consumption of goods.
In addition to being eligible for these specialty crop grants, hemp growers will be able to take advantage of the new Agricultural Business Development Center including services for business planning, marketing, and diversification.
Hemp was grown in Pennsylvania and throughout the United States until after World War II, but became regulated alongside marijuana and its cultivation was prohibited. Hemp and marijuana are different varieties of the same species of plant. Unlike marijuana, hemp is grown mainly for fiber and seed and must maintain a much lower concentration of the psychoactive chemical tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, below the 0.3 percent legal threshold.
Pennsylvania recently made hemp subject to the Controlled Plant and Noxious Weed Committee, created under Act 46 of 2017. With the committee’s approval, hemp was designated a controlled plant, which requires all growers to register and obtain permits through the department.