Pennsylvania’s hemp industry has received another helping hand in the form of $392,265 in state government grants to three agricultural nonprofits.
The grants are to support projects designed to promote the growth of food and fiber hemp markets, increase sales, and raise awareness about the industry’s potential in the state.
“Pennsylvania is setting a pioneering precedent, creating a fresh hemp industry from the ground up,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding when announcing the grants last week.. “These grants are instrumental in propelling an industry that was once integral to Pennsylvania’s economy. We are again witnessing the emergence of fresh opportunities for new businesses, job creation, and the promotion of eco-friendly products.”
The grants go the Pennsylvania Hemp Industry Council ($56,000), the U.S. Ecological Advanced Research & Conservation Hub Hemp Certificate Program for Disadvantaged Communities (USEARCH, $20,500), and Vytal Plant Science Research ($315,765).
The Pennsylvania Hemp Industry Council will use the grant to drive a campaign highlighting hemp’s advantages and fostering new markets for hemp-based products.
USEARCH, a nonprofit based in Mayfield, Lackawanna County, focuses on researching agricultural technologies and their byproducts. USEARCH will utilize the grant to develop an educational program for disadvantaged communities, including youth, veterans, and women, empowering them to join the hemp industry.
Vytal Plant Science Research, a non-profit sponsoring research at Penn State Harrisburg’s Central Pennsylvania Research and Teaching Laboratory for Biofuels, is to establish a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) curriculum for high schools and universities. Their mission is to facilitate effective engagement in industrial hemp production, management, and cultivation, while promoting hemp’s myriad uses in food, fiber, fuel, industrial, and personal care products.
The Shapiro Administration’s matching grants cover up to 50% of project costs.
Hemp had been grown in Pennsylvania since the 16th century until prohibition in the 20th century. It would then be another seven decades before the crop could be legally grown again. Since that time, various support has been provided by the state’s government and other bodies. For example, a $1 million National Science Foundation grant was awarded last month to Vytal Plant Science Research for the development of an “Industrial Hemp Engine” in the state.
In February this year, grants from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to support activities designed to boost sales, export or consumer awareness of locally manufactured hemp products were awarded to several entities.