Governor Wolf’s signing of the Industrial Hemp Research Act, Number 92, now provides the ability for industrial hemp to be grown or cultivated by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (Department) or an institution of higher education that is operating under a permit from the Department. The Department or an institution of higher education holding a permit from the Department may contract with a person to grow or cultivate hemp. Hemp growth and cultivation must be done for the purposes of research conducted under an agricultural pilot program as established by the Department.
The 2014 Farm Bill paved the way for these pilot programs but limits hemp plantings for research only. Industrial hemp is a very versatile plant that has over 25,000 reported uses in the fiber, oil, biofuel, bird seed and other applications ranging from concrete additives to hand soaps and cosmetics.
The Department now has policies and procedures in place for the commonwealth's hemp research program. Researchers from institutions of higher education or growers who would like to be considered for participation in the program must submit a 2017 PDA Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program Permit Application prior to the application deadline of January 6, 2017.
HEMP RESEARCH PROJECT COST-SHARE PROGRAM
This program provides direct financial support of up to $1,000 through cost-sharing of the administrative fee associated with hemp research projects. Researchers who successfully complete a hemp research project approved by the Department of Agriculture and who submit a final report are eligible to apply*. The cost-share program is designed to help defray some of the costs related to the first year of the Industrial Hemp Pilot Research program. Applications for this cost-share program will be available in the Spring of 2017.
*Certain allowances may be made for projects that are unable to be completed through no fault of the researcher (such as crop loss) with the submission of a final report.