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Pennsylvania Ag News Headlines
Promising, Versatile Industrial Hemp Projects Hold Economic Potential
Pennsylvania Ag Connection - 08/22/2017

Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding visited two of 14 research projects that seek to demonstrate the economic value and viability of industrial hemp as a marketable crop in Pennsylvania.

"Thanks to the federal Farm Bill and Governor Wolf's bipartisan work with the General Assembly, we have the chance to re-establish this promising crop in Pennsylvania. Projects like these promise to demonstrate the potential of the plant to boost the vitality of Pennsylvania's agriculture industry."

The secretary's first stop of the day was at Penn State's Russell E. Larson Research Farm in Pennsylvania Furnace, Centre County. The university is conducting four research trials to analyze differences in industrial hemp variety, fertility, seeding rate, and planting dates. The project aims to develop production recommendations for growing industrial hemp and increase consumer knowledge of industrial hemp in Pennsylvania.

The university also invited the public to tour the project during Ag Progress Days over the past three days.

The secretary's second visit was to Perry County Land & Cattle, a 400-acre cattle farm that raises 100 percent grass-fed Black and Red Angus cattle, in Newport, Perry County. The farm's five-acre plot is comparing the rate of weight gain in beef cattle fed a hemp seed feed supplement, compared to a conventional feed supplement. The project intends to determine whether a hemp seed livestock supplement is a natural and cost-effective alternative for the commonwealth's 28,000 cattle producers.

Both hemp projects were approved under the Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program, which the department launched in December after Governor Tom Wolf signed Act 92 of 2016.

"Before hemp production was banned in the U.S., hemp was grown and marketed for a tremendous variety of uses," Secretary Redding said. "In the decades since, Pennsylvania has missed out on valuable economic opportunities. We're hopeful that these research projects can spur the return of a promising crop and decreased dependence on imports

Secretary Redding plans to visit each of the 14 projects in the program during the growing season.

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