Unlocking Hemp’s Potential: Pennsylvania Farmers Strive to De-risk Industry Amid Government Backing

Hemp Revolution Takes Root in <a href="https://leafyleaks.com/tag/pennsylvania/" class="st_tag internal_tag " rel="tag" title="Posts tagged with Pennsylvania">Pennsylvania</a> Amid <a href="https://leafyleaks.com/tag/government/" class="st_tag internal_tag " rel="tag" title="Posts tagged with Government">Government</a> Backing

Hemp Revolution Takes Root in Pennsylvania Amid Government Backing

By Jessica Reynolds, The Keystone Observer

Agricultural Innovators in Pennsylvania are orchestrating a Hemp Revolution, spurred on by state and federal funding that is bolstering the growth of this dynamic industry.

Supported by Public Funds, farmers are exploring the versatile applications of hemp in various sectors, including textiles, paper, automotive bio-composites, and construction projects. This infusion of government support has provided the impetus to investigate how hemp can play a pivotal role in these industries.

Advocates emphasize the Need for More Research Funding and the creation of novel within the commonwealth to provide sustained backing for hemp cultivation. According to Geoff Whaling, the chairman of the National Hemp Association, the challenge lies in which hemp varieties will thrive in Pennsylvania’s unique climate. “We’re still in the process of researching all of this, and to make progress, we need to attract both public and private investment,” Whaling asserts.

A Gathering of Minds took place at Coexist Build in Blandon, Berks County, where numerous stakeholders convened to discuss the prospects of hemp in Pennsylvania. This event, co-hosted by the USDA’s Rural Development program, fostered collaboration among the Pennsylvania Department of , Department of Health, Penn State University, Thomas Jefferson University, state , and private enterprises. The goal was to devise a comprehensive strategy for nurturing a bio-based economy encompassing farming, manufacturing, and .

However, bureaucratic hurdles have long hindered the hemp industry. Farmers are required to submit fingerprints, and their crops are subject to rigorous inspections, among other obligations. These intricacies can deter individuals from embracing hemp cultivation, often due to its association with marijuana. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to note that hemp contains such minimal levels of THC that it doesn’t induce a “high,” serving various other purposes.

Cautious Investor Sentiment has also impeded the industry’s progress. “Raising capital remains the most formidable obstacle for this industry, primarily due to the lingering hesitancy within capital markets associated with the term ‘hemp’,” Whaling reveals.

There’s a glimmer of hope that federal legislation will dismantle these barriers. In the commonwealth, though, hemp has already garnered some State-Backed Support. Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding announced grants totaling $200,000 for hemp production in January and awarded an additional $400,000 for promoting and marketing hemp in June. Furthermore, a Luzerne County-based hemp company secured a $1 million federal grant in May to explore innovative applications of this versatile crop.

These developments are in addition to prior grants, including the $150,000 disbursed in 2021. “Secretary Redding has shown unwavering support for the hemp industry,” notes Erica Stark, chair of the Pennsylvania Hemp Council.

The 2018 federal Farm played a pivotal role by removing hemp from the list of controlled substances, streamlining its industrial cultivation. Prospective hemp cultivators in Pennsylvania must obtain licenses from the state’s Department of Agriculture, which has already issued over 200 growing permits and 50 processing permits across the state.

Despite these strides, the Pennsylvania hemp industry has a journey ahead. Questions linger about how companies can effectively integrate hemp into their products, where raw materials should be processed, and how to establish a viable supply chain within the commonwealth.

Penn State and Thomas Jefferson Universities have embarked on several Hemp-Centric Research Endeavors that can help farmers identify optimal hemp varieties for cultivation and aid manufacturers in devising innovative applications for hemp-derived materials.

One critical roadblock is the Lack of Investment, a challenge Stark emphasizes. She asserts, “This industry desperately needs increased investment to minimize risks associated with its growth.”

Bob Morgan, representing the USDA’s Rural Development program, believes that educating the public about hemp’s potential viability will be a gradual process. Furthermore, hemp needs to overcome some significant milestones in its development before it can make substantial contributions to industries like construction.

A USDA National Hemp Report estimated that the value of industrial hemp in 2022 was $238 million, a significant decrease from its $824 million valuation in 2021. Similarly, Pennsylvania’s hemp cultivation dropped from 4,000 acres in 2019 to 350 in 2021. This decline followed a surge of interest after the restart of hemp production in the commonwealth in 2017.

The surge of interest in hemp, combined with state and federal backing, aligns with a broader Drive for and bio-based products. The USDA designates numerous products in Pennsylvania as “biopreferred,” affording them priority status for mandatory federal purchases.

Andrew Jermolowicz, representing the USDA Rural Development, anticipates a greater commitment from the federal government toward sustainable purchases, which would greatly benefit biopreferred products and bio-based producers alike.

Malvin Felix
I'm Malvin, a cannabis news enthusiast who finds joy in staying updated about the latest industry trends. My passion led me to become a dedicated writer, entrepreneur, and investor in the cannabis space. Through my writing, I aim to educate and spark discussions, while my entrepreneurial ventures and strategic investments reflect my commitment to driving positive change in the industry.

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