SUNY Morrisville leads NY back to industrial hemp production

Morrisville partners with JD Farms in Eaton on industrial hemp pilot program

MORRISVILLE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) - Hemp may not be what you'd think of as the next big cash crop but plenty in New York, including Governor Andrew Cuomo, think it can be for this state.

Cuomo is making it one of his signature proposals for the state in 2017 and wants to amend regulations and legislation banning it from wide-scale production.

SUNY Morrisville is helping lead the state back in growing hemp and in turn they say growing the economy.

For about a year now, the college has been working on the best methods for planting and growing industrial hemp.

SUNY Morrisville President Dave Rogers says, "We know there's a ready market for it in New York State so we're just trying to catch up with the industrial applications."

Under a research license from SUNY Morrisville JD Farms in nearby Eaton, Madison County is experimenting with growing hemp as a commercial crop.

It’s New York’s first industrial hemp farming operation in more than 80 years.

"We stopped using it not because there were problems; we stopped using it because it became illegal."  SUNY Morrisville Agronomy Professor Jennifer Gilbert Jenkins tells NewsChannel 9.

Hemp is the same species as marijuana and looks very similar to it, but a big difference between the two crops is that hemp doesn't have the chemical that gives you the high of marijuana.

The Governor wants to amend regulations and legislation to clear the way for full scale production of the crop; especially in this Southern Tier region with the ideal climate and soil for it to flourish.

President Rogers, "I think it’s to the Governors credit and this case the leadership in Albany to recognize diversification of crop products that could dramatically improve economic yields in Upstate NY."

The United State already imports nearly $600 million worth of industrial hemp a year for a variety of uses.

The stalk and seed from hemp can be used in food, the production of a variety of goods, including building materials, fuel, paper, animal bedding, biodiesel fuel and consumer products.

Gilbert Jenkins, "As soon as all of the regulations come into the 21st century there are no downsides, all I can see are possibilities for the economy of our state."

She says New York is leading the way right now and if we don’t' capitalize on the opportunity other states will quickly.

The Governor will host the first-ever industrial hemp summit in the Southern Tier later this year discussing issues including the cost of production, potential markets, and profitability of growing the crop.

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