Not pot: US hemp farms take root under state pilot programs

FILE - In this Oct. 5, 2013 file photo, a volunteer walks through a hemp field at a farm in Springfield, Colo. (AP Photo/P. Solomon Banda)
FILE - In this Oct. 5, 2013 file photo, a volunteer walks through a hemp field at a farm in Springfield, Colo. (AP Photo/P. Solomon Banda)

EATON, N.Y. (AP) — New York’s first industrial hemp farm in decades is taking root under a pilot program that’s part of a national resurgence of a plant used for everything from food to building materials but long banned along with its smokable cousin, marijuana.

A trade group estimates the value of hemp products in the U.S. at $600 million. But that’s based on imports because U.S. farmers weren’t allowed to grow it until now.

The 2014 Farm Bill allowed states to develop hemp pilot projects. Since then, 29 states have passed hemp legislation and nine have launched growing programs.

JD Farms in central New York harvested the state’s first legal hemp this fall under a university research partnership. Other farmers hope to get licenses next year, but some are waiting to see how the market develops.

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