New Legislation will Authorize More Locations to Research, Grow and Process Hemp as an Agricultural Commodity

Governor to Host New York’s First-Ever Industrial Hemp Summit in the Southern Tier

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced new actions to grow New York’s burgeoning industrial hemp industry. Building on the success of the State’s Industrial Hemp Agricultural Pilot Program that launched in 2016, the Governor has proposed to amend legislation to further grow the industry and authorize farmers to work with the state to conduct hemp research as an agricultural commodity. In addition, the Governor will host the first-ever Industrial Hemp Summit in the Southern Tier to bring manufacturers, farmers, researchers and other stakeholders together to identify challenges and opportunities to grow the industry and boost the agricultural economy throughout the state.

“New York is a beacon for innovation, smart growth and emerging industries – and with this proposal, we will continue to diversify and grow our agriculture industry, while supporting research and development and creating jobs throughout the state,” Governor Cuomo said. “We will position New York at the forefront of a growing agricultural sector that is ripe with economic opportunity, and capitalize on our agricultural assets to provide farmers with top-notch resources enabling them to grow the hemp industry for decades to come.”

Hemp is a growing commodity for states across the nation, as both the stalk and seed from hemp can be used in the production of a variety of goods, including clothing, building materials, fuel, paper, and consumer products. Industrial hemp is defined by .3 percent THC or less, and has generated $573 million in sales in the U.S. in 2015 alone. New York has an opportunity to lead industry growth by creating more opportunities for businesses to produce and manufacture the product. Currently, the production of hemp in New York is authorized at research projects at Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and SUNY Morrisville College.

New York’s Emerging Hemp Industry

Many valleys throughout the region have the ideal climate and soil for this crop to flourish, which has led to the interest by Cornell and Morrisville’s research programs. Over the past year, Cornell has conducted research on seeding equipment and plans to start a number of trials during the next growing season. Additionally, Morrisville has led experiments with organic fertilizers and potential uses of hemp. To build upon these successes, the Governor has proposed to:

  • Amend Legislation and Regulations: This will expand the Industrial Hemp Agriculture Pilot Program by authorizing private farms to work with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets to begin researching and growing the product. This collaboration will allow for the proper business planning, product monitoring and data collection that is consistent with research objectives of the pilot program. In addition, this will increase the number of permitted hemp sites in New York. Current law allows up to 10 sites in New York State, authorized by the Department of Agriculture and Market’s Commissioner, to grow or cultivate industrial hemp. By removing the limit on the number of sites, New York will provide more opportunities for businesses to start-up and grow.
  • Host First-Ever Industrial Hemp Summit: The summit will serve as a dialogue for researchers, farmers, manufacturers, state and local officials, and other economic development leaders, to identify limitations, assess potential benefits, and determine what additional policy actions may be necessary to continue to spur this rapidly growing industry. Taking place in the Southern Tier, the summit will focus on discussing issues including the cost of production, potential markets, and profitability of growing hemp. This will improve communication and coordination between regulatory entities and assist advocacy groups and farmers with making hemp a viable business option.
  • Secure the Industry: The Department of Agriculture and Markets will review security and transportation requirements in the current regulation and, with input from industry stakeholders, develop revisions that reflect the minimal risk hemp poses.

New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard Ball said, “We have yet to see the full potential of industrial hemp as it relates to the agricultural industry. Last year, we were excited to announce a pilot program to leverage the expertise of some of New York’s top education and research institutions to study industrial hemp as a viable crop and the various applications it may be useful for. The Governor’s proposal will significantly enhance that program by bringing together key stakeholders to discuss the advancement of the industry, and by allowing additional farmers to grow industrial hemp to assist further research of the crop. This important proposal will support the diversification of New York farms and bolster the State’s agricultural sector as a whole.”

Dan Dolgin, Co-owner of JD Farms, the first hemp grower in New York State, said, “We are incredibly thankful for the Governor’s efforts to revitalize the farming community particularly in upstate New York. We believe hemp is a valuable and viable crop that will benefit farmers in an immediate way. We also believe that by allowing private partners to participate in the program, it will give New York a competitive advantage and pave the way for an emerging industry that will directly support multiple sectors from agriculture to manufacturing. I would also like to thank Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo and the State Department of Agriculture and Markets for their support of all farmers across the state.”

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