Governor Cuomo Signs Legislation, Announces Initiatives To Support Industrial Hemp Industry In NYS

Announces Up to $10 Million in Grant Funding to Advance Research and Provide Resources to Future Processing Businesses.

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Albany, NY – July 12, 2017 – Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed legislation and announced new actions to support the emerging industrial hemp industry and boost the agricultural economy in New York State. This legislation solidifies the status of industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity under New York Agriculture and Markets Law and creates an industrial hemp working group to advise the State on research and policies concerning the crop. It also creates a one-stop shop to help producers and processors better understand state and federal regulations and requirements. In addition, the Governor announced up to $10 million in grant funding will be available through two initiatives to advance industrial hemp research and economic development opportunities for industrial hemp businesses. 
“By expanding industrial hemp research and development for both farms and businesses, New York is embracing our legacy of innovation to lead the way on this economic engine that will create jobs from the field to the factory,” Governor Cuomo said. “Industrial hemp is a promising commodity that, with the necessary support and resources, can provide a tremendous boost to our communities by increasing the profitability of our farms, creating new jobs in Upstate New York, and laying the groundwork for future growth.”
Research Grants for Research Institutions and Farmers
A centerpiece of Governor Cuomo’s agenda is a $5 million commitment to support research into the production of industrial hemp in New York. This initiative will begin immediately with a $1 million partnership among New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, Empire State Development, and Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The Department of Agriculture and Markets, in cooperation with College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, conducted an open solicitation for farmers interested in growing industrial hemp, in Cornell's research trials, during the 2017 growing season.  
As a result of this research grant program, industrial hemp will be planted on nearly 2,000 acres across the state for research purposes, expanding industrial hemp production in New York nearly 6,000 percent from 30 acres in 2016.  
Empire State Development and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets are also partnering with SUNY Morrisville to support industrial hemp research on an anticipated 85 acres. Both Cornell University and SUNY Morrisville will be reimbursed for the administration of these research trials and the production of annual research reports. 
Additional components of the $5 million research commitment include:
  • Industrial Hemp Seed Breeding Program: To support the development of local, high-quality seed that is consistent with New York and federal laws, Cornell University will expand its New York Seed Improvement Project to design industrial hemp seed certification standards for New York State. Similar to existing State benchmarks on seed quality for other commodities, this will ensure that the local hemp cultivars are developed to be well adapted for New York State’s climate and farm management practices, and maintain low levels of THC.  The State will also seek additional opportunities to partner with research institutions to develop domestic seed resources and germplasm repositories in New York.  
  • Continued Investment in Successful Industrial Hemp Research: New York State will continue to advance new opportunities in basic agronomic, market and manufacturing research to ensure New York’s leadership in the hemp production and manufacturing industry.
Capital Grants for Industrial Hemp Processors
New York State will also launch a $5 million Industrial Hemp Processors Grant Fund. Administered by Empire State Development, in consultation with the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets, the program will provide funding to eligible businesses for capital costs related to the processing of industrial hemp, including new construction and the purchase of equipment.  Grants of up to $250,000 will be available to qualifying applicants.  Program guidelines and applications will be available at on July 20, 2017.
Industrial Hemp Working Group
To further support the development of industrial hemp as an agricultural product, the legislation Governor Cuomo signed today will clarify that industrial hemp will be treated the same as other crops and seed under state law.  The legislation also establishes the Industrial Hemp Working Group and One-Stop Shop.  The working group includes researchers and key industry leaders who will serve two-year terms and will make recommendations concerning research, opportunities to promote industrial hemp, and policy and program changes. 
Members of the Industrial Hemp Working Group include:
  • Richard A. Ball, Commissioner, NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets (Chair)
  • Senator Thomas O’Mara
  • Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo
  • Mike Barnhart, Plant Science Laboratories
  • Susie Cody, NYS Hemp Industries Association
  • Benjamin Banks-Dobson, Old Mud Creek Farm LLC
  • Dan Dolgin, JD Farms
  • Ira Fair, 21st Century Hemp
  • Liisa Fiedelholtz, formerly of Ann, Inc.
  • Jennifer Gilbert Jenkins, SUNY Morrisville
  • David Grusenmeyer, New York Farm Viability Institute
  • Marc Privitera, PreProcess, Inc.
  • Larry Smart, Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • Julie Suarez, Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • Nicholas Vita, Columbia Care LLC
  • Steven Wood, SUNY Research Foundation
  • Jeff Williams, New York Farm Bureau
One-Stop Shop for Technical Assistance
The State today also debuted its One-Stop Shop and webpage to help producers and processors navigate industrial hemp industry regulations and requirements under state and federal law.  The One-Stop Shop is modeled after a similar and successful initiative to support the craft beverage industry, and will provide a single point of government contact for assistance with the State’s newly launched grant programs, as well as regulations, permitting, and any other questions or issues facing the industry. 
New York producers and businesses interested in participating in New York State’s Industrial Hemp Agricultural Research Pilot Program for the 2018 growing season, or the Industrial Hemp Processors Grant Fund should visit the One-Stop Shop, email, or call toll-free at 877-249-6841.  
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “New York is in a great position to lead in the revival of the industrial hemp industry in the U.S.  With our excellent research institutions paving the way, the State’s growers have a unique chance to tap into this emerging market.  Today, especially, when many of our farmers have faced challenges due to extreme weather conditions and may be looking to diversify their crops, the industrial hemp research program presents a great opportunity for our farmers, as well as our researchers and businesses to expand into new areas.”
Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “The industrial hemp initiative highlights one of the many ways New York State benefits from being home to world-class educational institutions as new academia-industry partnerships utilize the innovations from research and development, generating economic opportunities and more jobs for New Yorkers.” 
Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who convened New York’s first Industrial Hemp Summit in Ithaca on April 18 on behalf of Governor Cuomo, said, “There are so many promising applications for industrial hemp, the possibilities for unprecedented innovation in a variety of industries are truly limitless. The Southern Tier is Soaring with new opportunity, and with this bill signing Governor Cuomo is solidifying his commitment to growing the State’s agricultural industry and creating opportunities to strengthen the economy.”​
Senator Thomas F. O'Mara said, "I am excited to be taking another step to expand the hemp industry, advance new research and fuel economic growth across New York. Thanks to Governor Cuomo and my colleagues in the legislature, the hemp industry will prosper and support economic success for farmers, researchers, and local businesses throughout the state."
Senator Patty Ritchie, Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said, "The success of the agricultural industry in New York depends on connecting our state’s hardworking farmers with new and emerging opportunities, and these investments in the hemp industry do precisely that. The ability to diversify and make new crops available to farmers will provide myriad economic benefits, complementing the Governor’s continued commitment to the economies of Upstate New York."
Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo said, "This bill is the culmination of years of hard work and dedication, designed to position the state to take full advantage of this multi-purpose crop. I am pleased that the Governor has championed this legislation and strongly supported our efforts to position New York as the hemp capital of the nation. Farmers, processors, manufacturers, and researchers will all reap the rewards from the actions being taken today."
Assemblyman Bill Magee, Chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee, said, "The agricultural sector is a vital contributor to economic growth across the state and by welcoming new opportunities and markets, we help make this key industry even stronger. These investments in growing and expanding the hemp industry will create jobs and new economic activity, and I commend Governor Cuomo for his leadership in promoting the hemp industry."
Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton said, "By investing in the growth of the industrial hemp industry, we will create new jobs and opportunity in our community. Thank you Governor Cuomo for your leadership in expanding the hemp industry and to all who have made industrial hemp a viable part of New York agriculture that will help support job growth and economic development in our region for generations to come."
Kathryn J. Boor, Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University, said, “Making industrial hemp a success in New York depends on smart investment in research in the agricultural sciences. Backed by Cornell researchers and our strong network of agricultural expertise in every county in the state, New York is poised to be a national leader in this emerging crop. Governor Cuomo’s continued support provides our state’s farmers the opportunity they need to innovate and compete in this exciting new market.”
Dr. David Rogers, President of Morrisville State College, said, “It is exciting to lead in the return of industrial hemp production in New York State. Morrisville State College was fortunate to receive one of the first permits to conduct research on industrial hemp. Our faculty member, Dr. Jennifer Gilbert Jenkins, led the Morrisville effort and collaborated with JD Farms to grow the first successful crop under this permit in New York this past year. Our faculty and students are excited to continue conducting research on something that has such potential for New York State agriculture and industry.”
Industrial hemp generates more than $570 million per year nationally and has tremendous potential to grow the agricultural economy in New York State.  Recognizing the impact the industrial hemp industry can have on manufacturing, the creation of new jobs and the profitability of farms across New York, the State, at the Governor’s direction, launched its Industrial Hemp Agricultural Research Pilot Program in 2015.  The program permitted 10 educational institutions and farms to grow and research industrial hemp.  
In the 2017-18 New York State Budget, the Governor encouraged increasing industrial hemp research by lifting the cap on the number of authorized growing sites.  In April, he convened the State’s first-ever Industrial Hemp Summit and announced that the State’s Industrial Hemp Agricultural Research Pilot Program had filled its ten available research permits. The Governor also announced that Cornell University will be awarded $400,000 to explore best practices for growing varieties of hemp in different soil types and locations around the state. Cornell’s Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva will also assess hemp seed quality for germination and weed contamination.