History was made Friday in Pennsylvania with the first official planting of hemp seeds in the commonwealth in more than 80 years.
Hemp is a member of the marijuana plant family and because of that connection some say the stigma that is often associated with marijuana resulting in it being banned in Pennsylvania in the 1930’s. That changed this year. Farmers Eyewitness News spoke with say this is a very big deal, not only for them but also the entire commonwealth. This may look like any other day on the farm. Seeds being poured into a tractor to be planted on these fields in Limestone Township, but these are not your run of the mill seeds.
“This is some of the very first hemp seeds being planted in Pennsylvania in 84 years.” Said Adam Thompson, of the Pennsylvania Hemp Company.
Hemp is part of cannabis sativa plant. The same family that marijuana belongs to but it does not have the chemical that marijuana plant contains.
Thompson explains “Industrial hemp has no t-h-c which is the psychoactive component in the plant that would get you high essentially. So with industrial hemp it is nonexistent and should be considered as an agricultural product.”
Farmers can now grow hemp as another cash crop. Abram Ziegler’s family has run this farm in Lycoming County for 50 years. “So we’ll harvest the seed like we do with any other grain then the stock what’s left of it will be harvested like we would hay and market that somewhere we’re not sure.” He noted.
The seed can be turned into oils for cooking, fuel for engines and the plants itself transformed into clothing and even building supplies. State Representative Garth Everett says this could be a big financial windfall for farmers, businesses and the commonwealth, “Long term agriculture is still the number one industry in Pennsylvania. This could be a very valuable agricultural product and it could be sued for a lot of things. This is a new era for growing hemp.”
Pennsylvania has issued 13 permits for farmers to grow industrial hemp. Those farmers are also working with colleges and universities to explore the best methods to farm and develop the plant.