Recreational use of the cannabis plant may still be outlawed in New York State, but Governor Cuomo has officially extended his support to the industrial growth and research of hemp. And although these leaves don’t provide a high, they show a lot of promise for agricultural and job growth throughout the region.
Earlier this month, Cuomo signed legislation to solidify hemp’s status as an agricultural commodity as defined by the New York Agriculture and Markets law. The legislation also created an industrial hemp working group that will provide valuable information to the state on hemp research and policies, as well as a way for hemp producers and processors to understand regulations pertaining to the crop.
The Governor also announced that up to $10 million in grant funding will be made available through two separate initiatives to increase economic development opportunities for industrial hemp businesses and boost research on the crop itself.
Hemp research is no small investment. Cuomo has committed to granting $5 million for the research of industrial hemp production throughout the state. That initiative is to begin immediately with help from a $1 million partnership between the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, Empire State Development, and Cornell University’s Department of Agriculture and Life Sciences. As part of the initiative, industrial hemp will be planted for research purposes on nearly 2,000 acres across the state. In so doing, New York’s industrial hemp production will grow by nearly 6,000% in just one year.
JD Farms in Westchester County already grows and sells hemp products, but now they’re operating with a seal of approval from the state. The 100-acre farm already grows hemp, which the owners use in salads, pastas, and oils that they sell to customers that include Whole Foods. Another farm in Marion, NY is teaming up with 21st Century Hemp and the Rochester Institute of Technology to grow industrial hemp. Soon, those distinctive green plants may be popping up all around the state.
Although $11 billion is lost every year just due to employee turnover, Cuomo pointed out in a statement that these efforts will lead to a significant increase in employment opportunities.
“By expanding industrial hemp research and development for both farms and businesses, New York is embracing our legacy of innovation to lead the way on this economic engine that will create jobs from the field to the factory,” Cuomo said. “Industrial hemp is a promising commodity that, with the necessary support and resources, can provide a tremendous boost to our communities by increasing the profitability of our farms, creating new jobs in Upstate New York, and laying the groundwork for future growth.”