Pa. expanding industrial hemp pilot program in 2018

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Pennsylvania wants to rapidly grow its industrial hemp pilot program next year.

Gov. Tom Wolf today announced that the commonwealth will permit up to 50 individual growers or institutions of higher education to each grow up to 100 acres of industrial hemp for research purposes.

The hemp program was announced last December. It started this year.

However, there was less than 50 acres of industrial hemp grown in Pennsylvania this year. The number of growers was limited to 30, each of whom could grow no more than five acres.

Next season’s crop could cover 5,000 acres as the state will allow institutions to partner with individual growers to produce larger quantities of hemp.

“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,” Wolf said. “Our expanded program is designed to capitalize on this interest in 2018.”

A federal farm bill passed in 2014 allowed Pennsylvania to start up the industrial hemp program.

Aspiring hemp growers have until Jan. 19, 2018, to apply for next year’s expanded pilot program. Growers who participated this year may opt to renew permits or submit for new projects.

Permit applications and additional information is available on the Department of Agriculture’s website.

The department said research projects could explore a range of topics, including plants methods, harvesting techniques or product marketing options, or conservation, remediation or biofuel use.

Jason Scott
Jason Scott covers state government, real estate and construction, media and marketing, and Dauphin and Cumberland counties. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at jscott@cpbj.com.

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