The wide fan leaf of a mature, outdoor hemp plant.

Nature Photos

Applications for farmers to participate in New York’s recently expanded hemp research program are now open until Nov. 22 after the state was granted a Drug Enforcement Agency permit to help cultivators import industrial hemp seed.

Officials expect a 6,000 percent increase in the acreage in the state dedicated to hemp, from just 30 acres in 2016 to an estimated 2,000 acres next season. The state has so far licensed more than 20 partners to participate in the program.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that expanding industrial hemp research opens doors “to innovative ideas that could provide a major boost for our farms and communities.”

“Industrial hemp has the potential to become an economic engine not just in New York, but across the country and with this effort, we can lead the way in this emerging industry,” Cuomo, a Democrat, said in a press release.

Cuomo signed the hemp program expansion bill last July, which also established a Hemp Working Group to advise the state on policies to help grow the industry. Coinciding with the bill signing, Cuomo launched a $5 million Industrial Hemp Processors Grant Fund. The fund is administered by Empire State Development in consultation with the state Department of Agriculture and Markets. Grants up to $500,000 – to cover processing, new construction, and equipment costs – are available to qualifying applicants.

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