State Ag Department requests letters of interest from agricultural coops

Seeks new and existing agricultural coops interested in growing industrial hemp by June 6, 2019; accepting grower applications for fiber, grain and CBD to position the industry for 2020 growing season

The NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets today announced it is seeking letters of interest from agricultural cooperatives to participate in the State’s Industrial Hemp Agricultural Research Pilot Program. The Department is encouraging all new and existing agricultural cooperatives that have considered entering into the industrial hemp industry to capitalize on this growing agricultural and industrial sector.

Agricultural cooperatives present an opportunity for New York’s farmers to share resources and reduce financial risk in this emerging marketplace while growing, processing, producing, and marketing industrial hemp and hemp products. Farmers in a cooperative are able to partner in the purchasing, testing, processing, and distributing of farm supplies and farm business services. 

Letters of interest from agricultural cooperatives wishing to participate in the industrial hemp research program must be submitted to the Department by June 6, 2019.  Letters should provide information demonstrating the feasibility of growing, processing, and producing industrial hemp or hemp products under a farm-owned business structure.

The Governor has recognized industrial hemp as a strong new economic opportunity for farmers and signed legislation to solidify the status of industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity under New York Agriculture and Markets Law. In anticipation of the implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill and its accompanying new regulations for the industrial hemp industry, New York State is accepting grower applications from individuals and businesses for the Industrial Hemp Agricultural Research Pilot Program. Applications for future research partners can be submitted in the areas of grain, fiber, and Cannabidiol (CBD).  The Department is not accepting CBD processor applications at this time.

In addition, to help educate farmers about the industrial hemp program and the opportunities available to research partners for the 2020 growing season, the Department will hold several informational sessions across the State this fall.   A schedule will be posted on the Department’s website this summer.

The application and additional information, including the Department’s Research Partner Agreement can be found on the Department’s website at Industrial hemp grower applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. Applicants are encouraged to take the time to develop thoughtful, well-researched applications. Applicants are advised to have firm commitments for the sale of the industrial hemp that they intend to grow and should focus on the 2020 growing season. 

Any questions about the grower solicitation period may be sent to

Industrial hemp, which is defined as having 0.3 percent THC or less, is a growing commodity for states across the nation, as both the stalk and seed from hemp can be used in the production of a variety of goods, including clothing, building materials, fuel, paper, and consumer products. Industrial hemp and industrial hemp products generate more than $800 million per year in sales nationally. 

Governor Cuomo launched the Industrial Hemp Agricultural Research Pilot Program in 2015, recognizing its potential impact on manufacturing, job creation, and the profitability of farms across New York State. Since then, legislation proposed by the Governor in his 2017 State of the State Address eliminated the cap on the number of sites authorized to grow and research industrial hemp in New York State. The State held its first Industrial Hemp Summit and announced several actions to support the emerging industry in April 2017.

In 2018, the State held an Industrial Hemp Research Forum to continue to push the industry forward and to establish New York as a national leader in industrial hemp research, production, and processing. The Forum brought together researchers, academics, businesses, and processors to develop strategies to advance research throughout the State.

Last year, the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets had more than 100 new research partners, with approximately 3,500 acres of New York farmland approved for industrial hemp research, compared to 2,000 acres in 2017. The New York State Industrial Hemp Agricultural Research Pilot Program now has over 60 processors registered. 

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