Pennsylvania’s Agriculture Secretary recently announced a funding program that aims to help boost sales, export or consumer awareness of hemp products made in the state.
Prior to prohibition, hemp was an important crop in the state. 2017 marked the first year in seven decades industrial hemp was (legally) cultivated and harvested in Pennsylvania. Last season, 500 growing sites and 60 processors were licensed statewide and applications for this year’s season opened in December last year. Growing permit applications will be accepted until April 1, while processing permit applications will continue to be accepted throughout the year.
The state has gone from full stop to flat out on re-embracing hemp, where it can be grown for food, fibre and medicinal purposes; i.e. CBD (cannabidiol).
The resurgence of hemp in Pennsylvania hasn’t been without its challenges – this new generation of hemp farmers have been grappling with various issues including “hot” crops, where THC levels are above 0.3 percent and subsequently being classified as marijuana and destroyed. Other states piling onto the hemp bandwagon has also meant increased competition and surpluses. So, Pennsylvania needs to find ways to make its hemp products stand out from the rest.
“Hemp has presented a unique opportunity to build an industry from the ground up, supplying seemingly limitless environmentally sustainable construction materials, industrial fiber and food products just to name a few,” said Secretary Redding. “These competitive grants can help cultivate the growth of the industry that once was a staple of Pennsylvania’s economy and could once again support new jobs and income for Pennsylvanians.”
The grant pool on offer isn’t huge – $253,000 in matching funds to reimburse up to half of project costs, with minimum matching grants of $1,000. Among the fine print – grants will only be awarded to Pennsylvania nonprofit agricultural product promotion and marketing organizations. The Department of Agriculture will e-mail notice of the acceptance or rejection of a grant application by Friday, March 26, 2021.
In related news, Pennsylvania recently awarded $1.3 million in agricultural research grants, including to a project involving the use of hemp materials in construction and another analysing cannabinoids in bovine serum and hemp seed samples.