HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html New York Makes Bid To Grow More Hemp - For Industrial Purposes
Pubdate: Wed, 12 Jul 2017
Source: Buffalo News (NY)
Copyright: 2017 The Buffalo News
Author: Tom Precious

ALBANY -- Hemp once flourished in New York's farm fields before being
outlawed by the federal government in 1970.

Now the state is taking steps to increase the crop.

"We want to be the nation's leader in hemp production,'' Gov. Andrew
Cuomo said Wednesday shortly before signing legislation intended to
boost the commercialization of industrial hemp, which is used in some
25,000 products from cosmetics and animal feed to clothing and biofuels.

The state is also pumping $10 million into research for the
now-fledgling industry, State Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball
said, after the federal government in 2014 relaxed rules governing the
growing of the crop. Industrial hemp, unlike its marijuana cousin,
contains no or minimal levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, the ingredient
that gets users high.

The legislation Cuomo signed Wednesday creates a state-run, hemp seed
certification program and classifies industrial hemp as an
agricultural commodity. Such a classification, Ball said in an
interview, can help farmers get bank loans to grow a crop.

"It's a real crop,'' Ball said.

Given New York's weather patterns and how quickly hemp is compared
with other crops, Ball said industrial hemp can be an important crop
for farmers looking to diversify their operations and. In rainy
summers such as 2017, farmers would be able to plant industrial hemp
seeds late in July and have a crop later this summer.

Part of the additional state funding this year is going to a research
program that involves planting hemp seeds on 2,000 acres from Erie
County to Long Island. That is up from last year, when the crop was
limited to a few greenhouses and about 30 acres of Mohawk Valley farmland.

The Hemp Industries Association, a trade group, estimates retail hemp
product sales are about $600 million in the United States, with
one-quarter of those sales coming from personal care products
containing hemp ingredients. Farmers now interested in growing hemp
must participate in a state-run research program through Cornell
University, SUNY Morrisville or the state agriculture department.
Farmers are banned by federal law from purchasing seeds on the open
market and growing the crop on their own outside of the
state-administered effort.

Ball said about $750 million of industrial hemp is imported into the
United States, with much of it coming from Canada.

Sen. Thomas O'Mara, a Chemung County Republican who was the Senate
sponsor of the new hemp law, said the measure needed to get past
initial opposition in some quarters about marijuana.

"We had to get the 1960 mentality of reefer madness out of our minds
to move this forward,'' he said.

"It's a great industrial crop,'' O'Mara added.
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