“Pennsylvania has a tremendous opportunity to capitalize on a new and in-demand market for hemp,” said Gov. Wolf. “This is a versatile product with many uses, and it’s a product that consumers want.”
This year, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture issued more than 300 permits on nearly 600 acres at more than 800 different growing locations. And Gov. Wolf recently signed the PA Farm Bill, a piece of which will create a state-level Specialty Crop Block Grant Program to invest in and encourage farming of high-priority crops like hemp.
“Hemp is a new, old crop that has the potential to make a big impact on Pennsylvania’s agricultural – and economic – landscape,” said Sec. Redding. “It’s a crop with both a rich history and a bright future here in the commonwealth.”
Hemp was grown in Pennsylvania and throughout the United States until after World War II, but became regulated along with marijuana and its cultivation was prohibited. Hemp and marijuana are different varieties of the same species of plant. Unlike marijuana, hemp is grown mainly for fiber and seed and must maintain a much lower concentration of the psychoactive chemical tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, below the 0.3 percent legal threshold.
Pennsylvania recently made designated hemp a controlled plant, which requires all growers to register and obtain permits through the department.
Later Friday, Gov. Wolf made a stop on the Pennsylvania Ice Cream Trail with a visit to Ritchey’s Dairy, Martinsburg. The dairy farm has expanded over time from local milk deliveries to ice cream, iced tea and butter. Ritchey’s Dairy has plans to further expand its storage, processing and packaging capabilities using a $767,550 loan approved earlier this year by the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority.
“Ritchey’s Dairy is a great example of a family willing to try new business initiatives to carry on a legacy of family farming,” said Gov. Wolf. “I’m proud to be supporting farming families like the Ritcheys through programs like the Ice Cream Trail and our agriculture investment loans.”
The Pennsylvania “Pursue Your Scoops” Ice Cream Trail was developed last year as a joint effort between the Pennsylvania Tourism Office and the Department of Agriculture to boost Pennsylvania’s dairy industry by capitalizing on agritourism.