State to accept 60 hemp research projects in 2019

The state Department of Agriculture is accepting a bumper crop of applications for what will be its third year of overseeing hemp research projects.

The department plans to approve 60 projects for next year, up from 39 in 2018, which could mean thousands of acres of hemp cultivation across Pennsylvania in 2019

The crop began being cultivated in the state in limited qualities under a 2014 federal farm bill.

“The first research projects conducted have shown exciting progress and possibilities for this reemerging crop,” Agriculture Secretary Russel Redding said in a press release. “This research will help us reintroduce industrial hemp in Pennsylvania.”

Colleges, universities and independent government-approved contractors can apply to grow hemp, which has a number of commercial uses. Each applicant must provide GPS coordinates of where they pan to grow the plant and describe the aims of their research.

Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration has shown interest in increasing the acreage of hemp grown in the state and announced earlier this year that 50 projects were expected to be approved for 2019. In the initiative’s first year in 2017, less than 50 acres of industrial hemp were grown in the state.

This year’s acreage was expected to break 1,000 acres and totaled at 830 according to the department. With the increase in approved projects and an increase in allowed acreage per grower, that number could be as high as 6,000 acres by the end of 2019.

The deadline for the program is Dec. 17 and applicants can expect to be notified in early January.

Ioannis Pashakis
Ioannis Pashakis covers health care and Lancaster County. Email him at ipashakis@cpbj.com.

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