Jun 28, 2021
Pennsylvania Ag Department Funds Hemp Research

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has awarded $460,000 in funds for eight projects — including three focused on hemp — that will increase market opportunities and competitiveness of Pennsylvania specialty crops. Funded under the Pennsylvania Farm Bill, state Specialty Crop Block Grants fund high-priority specialty crops that are not eligible under the federal specialty crop grant program.

“Increasing market access and competitiveness means investing in crops with high growth potential that otherwise may be overlooked,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “There is strength in our diversity, and we need to ensure growers – no matter size, scope or production – have every opportunity to succeed, strengthening both on-farm vitality and our commonwealth’s economic impact.”

High priority crops in the state include hemp, hops, hardwoods, honey; and barley, rye and wheat for distilling, brewing and malting. Projects aim to enhance the competitiveness and sustainability of specialty crops through research to increase conservation and environmental outcomes, enhance food safety, develop new and improved seed varieties, or improve pest and disease control.

The funded hemp projects are:

  • Alvernia University, Berks County, $32,095: Complete an environmental assessment of industrial hemp, from seed to structure, by collecting growth and supply chain data.
  • Franklin & Marshall College, Lancaster County, $35,588.00: Establish a comprehensive baseline assessment of oomycete pathogen pressure on hemp.
  • Penn State University, Centre County, $126,730: Optimize genotype selection and management practices for Pennsylvania hemp production.

A percentage of the awarded funds are designated to projects in rural communities with at least 20 percent of the population below the federal poverty line.

The state Specialty Crop Block Grants are an element of the Pennsylvania Farm Bill, Governor Wolf’s bold, aggressive, and necessary investments in Pennsylvania agriculture to grow opportunities and resources, remove barriers to entry, and inspire future generations of agriculture leaders.

For more about the state Specialty Crop Block program, visit agriculture.pa.gov.

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