Legislature passes legislation to expand hemp program

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Bill would allow transportation, processing, sale, & distribution of hemp

(ALBANY, NY) – New York’s industrial hemp industry will continue to develop following new legislation passed by the State Legislature. Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo and Senator Tom O’Mara announced Wednesday passage of their bill that would allow for the transportation, processing, sale, and distribution of hemp grown as part of the State’s research pilot program.

“The significance of this bill cannot be overstated. This marks the beginning of a new industrial crop with enormous economic potential,” said Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (D-Endwell). “I am very encouraged by the interest being expressed by farmers and research institutions across New York State. Industrial hemp will benefit not only local agriculture, but has the potential for numerous manufacturing opportunities in the Southern Tier and throughout the state.”

“It’s great economic news that we’re continuing to move forward to ensure the success of this pilot program to help New York State secure a strong position at the forefront of an industry that can diversify and strengthen our agricultural economy, generate revenue and create jobs,” said Senator O’Mara (R,C,I-Big Flats). “The New York Farm Bureau, Cornell University researchers and other agricultural leaders and farm advocates recognize industrial hemp as a potentially lucrative way to provide new economic opportunities and a competitive edge for our farmers.”

The bill (A9310/S6960) passed the Assembly unanimously on June 2nd; the Senate followed suit passing it unanimously on Tuesday. Research of industrial hemp by states was permitted as part of the 2014 US Farm Bill (§7606); New York’s pilot program was established following legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Lupardo and Senator O’Mara later that year. Earlier this year, regulations for the program were finalized and the first licenses were issued. J & D Farms, in Georgetown, NY is operating under the license awarded to Morrisville State College and is the first private farm in the state to obtain seeds for cultivation.

“We are very excited to work with our partners at Morrisville State College on researching the viability of hemp as valuable commodity for New York State farmers,” said Dan Dolgin, co-owner of J & D Farms. “The fact you can buy it in your grocery story, but can’t grow it in your fields has prevented farmers from participating in the multi-billion dollar market unfolding abroad. Thanks to the efforts of Assemblywoman Lupardo and Senator O’Mara, that is now changing here in the state.”

Both the stalk and seed from hemp can be used in the production of a variety of goods including textiles, building materials, paper, food, body products and environmental products such as biofuels. It is also a source of cannabidiol, the oil used in medical marijuana applications, and is rich in Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, which gives it numerous health benefits to both humans and animals. According to a 2015 report, retail sales from imported hemp products were estimated at $600 million.