Farmers Say Hemp is a Cash Crop for the Commonwealth

LIMESTONE TOWNSHIP, MONTOUR COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) Some say it's a chance to bring in much needed revenue to a cash strapped Pennsylvania.  On Friday, for the first time since the 1930's, hemp seeds are being planted in the Commonwealth.  Eyewitness News Lead I-Team Reporter Andy Mehalshick explains the use of  industrial hemp .


   "As a farmer and a processor I see tremendous value having another potential oil seed that can go into our rotation." Said Josh Leidhecker, of the Susquehanna Mills Company.

 The Susquehanna Mills Company in Montoursville hopes to reap the benefits of the hemp seed.   "Typically farmers grew mainly corn and soy beans. Anytime you can add additional value added crop in the rotation it's not only good for the soil is also benefits the bottom line of the farm." Said Josh Leidhecker. He is working with state agriculture officials and other area farmers in one of the first ever planting of hemp seeds in Pennsylvania. The seeds and the plant itself can be transformed into hundreds of other products.

"We are a food grade certified organic facility and make a culinary oil cooking oil salad oil with the seeds that come from this particular production." Leidhecker noted.

 Hemp seeds were banned in the United States in the 1930's during what's called the "reefer madness days."

The government prohibited the growing of any plant that was a member of the marijuana family. The law was changed last year to allow hemp seeds to be planted.

"Oh it's historic it's historic." , Said Shawn House.  He runs a company that makes products out of hemp seeds. Seeds he's had to buy in Canada at a huge cost.

"This is hemp and a cotton blend , everyone remembers the hemp rope. Now they are talking about car parts, matting and even fiberglass.

House tells Eyewitness News, the benefits of hemp based products could have a big impact in the energy field. Hemp seeds can be turned into a fuel source.

"We are talking, creating jobs from the farmer’s fields. We don’t have to have a single force for energy such as natural gas or oil but we're getting it from the farmers’ fields." Said House/

 Pennsylvania has issued 13 permits for farmers to grow and process the hemp seeds.  Pennsylvania lawmakers are hopeful the hemp seed industry can help bring-in some much needed revenue for the Commonwealth.


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