The state of Pennsylvania has decided to scrap limitations on its industrial hemp pilot program and will allow farmers open access to the hemp industry, The Morning Call reports.
Pennsylvania submitted its updated hemp plan to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. While the 2018 Farm Bill legalized the cultivation of low-THC industrial hemp, the federal government has yet to establish specific cultivation rules. The previous farm bill Bill contained strict guidelines allowing only for industrial hemp pilot programs, which remain in place in many states.
Pennsylvania is scrapping just such a pilot program, which contained limitations that had capped the industry at 84 conditional participants and just 100 acres of plants. The state agriculture department announced in 2018 that it was too late to change course for 2019 but now has reportedly reversed that decision.
Many challenges still remain even after Pennsylvania’s opening of its hemp program. According to spokesperson Shannon Powers, “there’s 80 years of missing information” regarding hemp cultivation, such as common pests and methods of harvesting. Not to mention, there are not currently any large-scale commercial hemp processors in place.
“It’s one more step, but in this case it’s a big step for Pennsylvania farmers who are certainly seeking alternatives in new rotational crops,” said Geoff Whaling, President of the Pennsylvania Hemp Industrial Council.