Pennsylvania growers are being encouraged to share in a newly developed pilot research program that will add toward a better knowledge of what could be a new cash crop in the state. Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding stated, “Hemp has a long history here in Pennsylvania, and we believe it holds a promising future. If we want to realize this crop’s full potential, though, we need the benefit of sound research.”

Industrial hemp was grown commercially in the United States until after World War II. Governments began to outlaw its cultivation in the mid-20th century because of its association with marijuana. Pennsylvania joins states like Kentucky and New York where officials and growers are keeping their focus on the seemingly profitable future of hemp growth. The Department of Agriculture will award $1,000 to successful hemp research program permit recipients to balance out the costs of the project under the cost-share program.

Grain farmer Ammon Carlyle is intrigued by the program. He stated, “I looked up ‘hemp’ online and learned that early in the country’s history it was widely grown and was a way that farmers made money. I plan to make an application to join the project.” Carlyle definitely has the land to hold the project.

Researchers who finish a hemp research project are qualified to apply, as long as the project has been approved by the Department of Agriculture. Under the Industrial Hemp Pilot Research Program guidelines, a maximum of thirty projects of five acres each will be selected for the 2017 growing season. The department will select the projects based on a complete program application. The department will issue a research permit to an institution of higher education or to a person contracted to grow industrial hemp for research purposes. The pilot research program follows the state and federal laws that allow industrial hemp to be grown in states where allowed.

The cut off date for Pennsylvania growers to apply for a 2017 PDA Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program was January 6. Applicants who are approved for research projects will be notified by February 17.

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