Hemp was the message spoken loud and proud this week as the 102nd Pennsylvania Farm Show is underway from January 6-13, 2018 in Harrisburg, PA.
Erica McBride, Executive Director of both the Pennsylvania Hemp Industry Council and the National Hemp Association, had the following to say during the show, “We want to see people from all over Pennsylvania planting hemp, doing trials and testing varieties to see what grows best in different parts of the state.”
“Hemp is going to make a lot of products better and more sustainable,” McBride added.
As many know the hemp plant has a tremendous range of usages from food to Hempcrete. McBride also feels hemp is a viable new crop for Pennsylvania farmers in lieu of tobacco as times and industries change. Hemp is easy to plan, maintain, and is an effective riparian buffer. This allows farmers to plant money crops along waterways in Pennsylvania while still protecting the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
“There are a lot of misconceptions out there,” McBride said. “A lot of people still don’t understand the difference between hemp and marijuana.” This is something we know all too well at Cannabis Network News. The Pennsylvania Hemp Industry Council had a booth on display, and as expected, the confusion among the genus of the plant. The display which features potted hemp plants has lead many to come for a smell, a selfie, and to ask for more information.
Pennsylvania has a rich history of hemp dating as far back as William Penn who encouraged colonists to plant the cannabis plant with records dating back to early 1700 of hemp growth.
The state as recently expanded their industrial hemp growth legislation expanding the law for 2018 to allow 5,000 acres of hemp to be grown throughout the state. Developers also expect to break ground soon on an industrial facility in the Lehigh Valley that can process up to 14,000 acres of raw hemp for commercial use each year.
Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Fred Strathmeyer is optimistic but has reservations. The Deputy Secretary of Ag stated, “The hope is, always, to create some economic value, more jobs and production plants in Pennsylvania,” he said. “The challenge right now is that there isn’t a lot of market for hemp.” “It’s a chicken and the egg problem.” claims Strathmeyer, “Just tell me there’s a market, and the answer is yes.”