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Farmers Jump On Hemp Bandwagon, Planting Additional Acreage

Monday, February 26, 2018

Hemp productionPennsylvania farmers are increasing the acreage they’re devoting to industrial hemp, while two more states draw closer to allowing it.

In Pennsylvania, farmers plan to grow up to 1,000 acres of hemp, about 30 times as much as they did in 2017, according to state agriculture secretary Russell Redding. According to Lancaster Farming:

Redding announced the Department of Agriculture approved 39 industrial hemp research applications on Feb. 15. If all applicants complete the permitting process, nearly 1,000 acres of hemp will be growing this spring. Last year, 14 growers produced a total of 36 acres statewide. About one third of those who applied to grow hemp this year are renewal requests from last year’s growers.

“Last year was the first year in seven decades industrial hemp was grown and harvested in Pennsylvania, and it was clear there was considerable interest,” said Redding.

While Pennsylvania expands its program, other states are getting into the game. The Missouri House has given initial approval to a bill legalizing the plant. Those in favor of the bill said it was a development opportunity that could be a boon for the state’s farmers.
Finally, Alaska’s legislature has also given the green light to hemp growers. There, the state legislature has approved a hemp cultivation program. The legislation would allow registered participants to grow the plant. According to KTOO Public Media:
Wasilla Republican Sen. Shelley Hughes introduced the bill more than a year ago after reworking legislation originally written by former Sen. Johnny Ellis.

“It was time to remove hemp from the marijuana statutes,” Hughes said. “There’s no psychoactive impact from hemp. If you were to smoke acres and acres and acres of hemp, all you would get would be a sore throat and a cough.”

Hughes said she was approached by local farmers in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough looking to grow hemp, which can be used as feed and bedding for livestock, as well as material to clean up oil spills.

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