Pennsylvania’s industrial hemp program could expand tenfold in its second year,Â Gov. Tom Wolf announced Wednesday.
This year was the first in decades that hemp could be legally grown in the state; the state offered 30 research project permits limited to 5 acres each, and approved 16 of the 17 applications submitted, none of them in Lancaster County. Officials said the projects covered less than 50 acres this year.
Next year, officials said,Â up to 50 individual growers or institutions of higher education will be permitted to grow up to 100 acres of industrial hemp apiece.Â
Wolf said hemp “had a long history in Pennsylvania until it disappeared from the landscape half-a-century ago,” and called this year “a learning experience” that showed ” a tremendous enthusiasm among growers.”
Â âWe learned about the challenges of sourcing seed, controlling weeds, harvesting, and finding markets,” said Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding, saying each of this year’s project leaders is likely to reapply for 2018.Â
Industrial hemp, a source of food and fiber for thousands of years, was once so prevalent here that it gave East and West Hempfield townships their names. But stigmatized by a different strain of the plan that yields marijuana, the growing of industrial hemp was banned in the United States in 1937.Â
The 2014 federal Farm Bill paved the way for a 2016 state law that allowed the growing of industrial hemp for research purposes.