The Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary has announced $392,265 in grants for three agriculture nonprofits to grow fiber and food hemp markets, sales, and awareness in Pennsylvania. The grants fund campaigns to create new markets and introduce hemp to communities and schools. The investment in the hemp industry includes reimbursing up to half of the project costs.
“Pennsylvania has been making history, building a new hemp industry from roots up,” said Sec. Redding. “These grants feed the growth of an industry that was once a staple of Pennsylvania’s economy and is once again growing opportunities for new businesses, farm income, jobs, and climate-smart, environmentally sound products.”
Grant recipients, amounts, and project descriptions follow:
Pennsylvania Hemp Industry Council – $56,000
Funds a campaign to promote the benefits of hemp and create new markets for hemp-based products. The council is building a dynamic collaboration among farmers and other businesses, investors, government agencies, and communities to bring hemp back to Pennsylvania’s farms.
U.S. Ecological Advanced Research & Conservation Hub Hemp Certificate Program for Disadvantaged Communities (USEARCH) — $20,500
Funds development of an educational program for disadvantaged communities including youth, veterans, and women to enable them to get involved in the hemp industry. USEARCH is a Mayfield, Lackawanna County-based nonprofit focused on researching agricultural technologies and products derived through them.
Vytal Plant Science Research – $315,765
To introduce a STEM curriculum to high schools and universities to effectively engage in industrial hemp production, management, and cultivation by promoting and marketing industrial hemp for its many uses such as food, fiber, fuel, industrial, and personal care products.
Vytal is a non-profit that sponsors research at Penn State Harrisburg’s Central Pennsylvania Research and Teaching Laboratory for Biofuels.
Grant funds reimburse up to half of project costs, and were awarded in a competitive process, with special consideration for projects that leverage other funding and public-private partnerships.
These matching grants are just one way Pennsylvania is feeding growth in the new hemp industry. Other support has included creating state-level Specialty Crop Block grants through the historic PA Farm Bill when federal funding for hemp was not yet available, funding key research and development at state higher ed institutions, and convening the PA Hemp Steering Committee to foster relationships among colleges and university researchers, growers, processors, investors, and insurers. With more than $500,000 awarded since the beginning of the Shapiro Administration, the department’s grant investments in growing a vibrant hemp industry have now topped $1.5 million.