A Virginia firm is opening an industrial hemp processing center in Wythe County estimating to invest $894,000 into the site and purchase more than 6,000 tons of hemp over the next three years for processing, the governor’s office announced last week. The facility will be the first industrial hemp fiber processing center in the state following the passage of the federal Farm Bill last year, which removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act.
The Appalachian Biomass Processing facility will create 13 jobs and will receive a $25,000 grant from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development fund which will be matched by the county.
Gov. Ralph Northam (D) said the hemp industry “opens up a wealth of opportunity to bring new jobs and new businesses” into the state. He added that the facility “will play a key role in helping to create a highly-anticipated market for our farmers and industrial hemp growers.”
Susan Moore, owner of Appalachian Biomass Processing and Wythe County native, said in a statement the state and county business development grants will help the company “create an entirely new industry for the region.”
The company will use a specialized stripping machine to process bales of hemp stalks into two raw agricultural products – bast fiber for the textile industry, and the hurd, for use as animal bedding.
Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring noted that there are more than 1,100 registered hemp growers in the state and said that having the processing infrastructure “and strong markets in which to sell it are critical to seizing its potential.”
Virginia legalized hemp production in 2017 – prior to the federal reforms – and last week the U.S. Department of Agriculture released draft rules for the industry. Once finalized the agency will be able to begin the review and approval process for individual state-approved hemp programs.
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