New York State’s Industrial Hemp Agricultural Research Pilot program is taking a big leap this year. Some 62 farms and businesses have received research permits focusing on biotechnology and agronomics. Others are amid the approval process. Some 18 companies have registered to process industrial hemp — key to advancing market research and supporting a growing demand for industrial hemp products nationwide.
“There is a renewed interest in industrial hemp production and processing throughout the country,” says Gov. Andrew Cuomo. “With our strong grower community and innovative researchers, New York is in a great position to lead. By providing an alternative crop for our farmers, industrial hemp has the potential to change the landscape of our agricultural economy, create jobs and drive growth across the Southern Tier and throughout New York.”
Approximately 3,500 acres of New York farmland are approved for industrial hemp research trials. That compares to 2,000 acres in 2017. Research projects will focus on utilizing industrial hemp as a source of food, fiber and grain for producing animal bedding, insulation, pellets for heating, and other consumer products.
More than food and fiber.
Researchers will also explore the potential cosmetic and wellness benefits of cannabidiol, a cannabis compound, plus conduct biotechnology work and study indoor plant breeding and cloning methods as a possible source of transplantable plant stock for growers. That was a huge need pointed out during a seminar at February’s New York Farm Show.
Through the 18 registered processing companies, New York will have the capacity to process industrial hemp for the craft beverage sector, food production, CBD oils for wholesale, heating and building materials, fiber, and more.
NYS’s $5 million Industrial Hemp Processors Grant Fund was launched last year to enhance hemp processing and support business development. The program helps cover capital costs related to industrial hemp processing such as new construction and the purchase of equipment.
In January, Cuomo announced that the state had invested $650,000 through the Regional Economic Development Councils to establish a $3.17-million industrial hemp processing facility in the greater Binghamton area. Southern Tier Hemp, the company leading this effort, develops, manufactures and sells CBD-based health products using a proprietary extraction method.
“This successful program has opened the door new possibilities in New York’s agricultural industry and so many other fields,” says Richard Ball, state agriculture commissioner. “There are thousands of uses for industrial hemp. These new research projects will continue to strengthen our understanding of its many benefits. At the same time, the pilot program is supporting opportunities for diversification on New York farms at a time when many farmers are struggling.”