Harrisburg, PA – Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding announced that the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA)’s 2019 hemp program will accept permit applications through May 1, after which the permitting window will close for this growing season.
“This year presented new opportunities for hemp growers, and we received an overwhelmingly positive response and scores of interested participants,” said. Sec. Redding. “We look forward to working with these and other new growers as we continue to learn and do new things with this new old crop.”
Over the past two years, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture administered the Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program, legitimized by the 2014 Farm Bill and authorized in Pennsylvania statute by the Industrial Hemp Research Act. This year, acreage caps—previously set at 100 acres—were lifted for approved applicants and acreage was no longer be restricted under the new program. Additionally, there was no cap on the number of applications accepted for 2019 and producers could grow hemp for commercial purposes. The department issued nearly 200 permits on more than 500 different growing locations for 2019.
Hemp was grown in Pennsylvania and throughout the United States until after World War II but became regulated along with marijuana and its cultivation was prohibited. Hemp and marijuana are different varieties of the same species of plant. Unlike marijuana, hemp is grown mainly for fiber and seed and must maintain a much lower concentration of the psychoactive chemical tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, below the 0.3 percent legal threshold.
Pennsylvania recently made hemp subject to the Controlled Plant and Noxious Weed Committee, created under Act 46 of 2017. With the committee’s approval, hemp was designated a controlled plant, which requires all growers to register and obtain permits through the department. The permit includes all information required by federal law for hemp production and will allow enforcement necessary for any violation of permit conditions.
For more information on Pennsylvania’s commercial hemp program, visit the department's website.