New York is soliciting applications from farmers, businesses and research institutions interested in growing and processing industrial hemp. It is part of the state's Industrial Hemp Agricultural Research Pilot Program.
Earlier this year, the program was expanded to include private entities to ensure New York's leadership in research concerning hemp production and manufacturing, supporting a 6,000% increase in acres dedicated to industrial hemp production. According to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office, more than 20 partners are involved in the pilot program licensed to grow industrial hemp on approximately 2,000 acres in the state. That compares to 30 acres planted in 2016.
“Industrial hemp has the potential to become an economic engine not just in New York, but across the country,” noted Cuomo. “With this effort, we can lead the way in this emerging industry. By expanding industrial hemp research, we’re opening the doors to innovative ideas that could provide a major boost to our farms and communities, create new jobs, and lay the foundation for future economic growth.”
Building the infrastructure
A 17-member Industrial Hemp Working Group had its first meeting recently. It includes farmers, researchers and key industry leaders who’ll serve two-year terms. It’s chaired by State Ag Commissioner Richard Ball. Their mission is to make recommendations related to policy and program changes, as well as research and promotional opportunities.
Acquiring high-quality seed is critical to completing successful research. With its new federal license, the NYS Agriculture and Markets can facilitate imports of industrial hemp seed from international sources on behalf of pilot program participants, according to Ball. That will allow participants to assess hemp seed quality from a variety of sources.
To enhance industrial hemp processing, New York state has also launched a $5 million Industrial Hemp Processors Grant Fund. It’s administered by Empire State Development, in consultation with the Department of Agriculture and Markets. This program aims to help cover capital costs related to industrial hemp processing, including new construction and equipment purchase. Grants of up to $500,000 are available to qualifying applicants. Program guidelines and applications are available at esd.ny.gov/industrial-hemp.
What comes next
New York producers, businesses and universities interested in participating in the pilot program can apply at agriculture.ny.gov/PI/PIHome.html#_blank. Open solicitation ends on Nov. 22.
An Ag and Markets industrial hemp webpage is available to help producers and processors better understand state and federal regulations and requirements.
Source: NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets
For broader look at industrial hemp, see American Agriculturist’s coverage of this “smoking hot” issue: