Pennsylvania hemp industry could be boom or bust in 2020

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LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) – We’re still waiting for numbers, but it appears the first year of growing hemp in Pennsylvania may not have been as lucrative as some farmers had hoped.

“I tell people the prices were too high. Now they’re back to reality,” said Steve Groff, a hemp farmer and industry expert.

Groff, who runs Hemp Innovators, said the hemp industry in Pennsylvania saw a rush of farmers trying to make a quick dollar in 2019. He said there were not enough buyers for the product.

“If you don’t know what you’re doing, you can lose money,” Groff said. “If you know what you’re doing and know who your buyer is and you have an arrangement with them, you can make money. That’s the difference between boom or bust.”

It’s estimated most farmers primarily grow hemp for CBD products which still aren’t FDA approved.

Groff says in 2020, farmers need to find buyers to make money.

“If we grow specific components for end-users, then we’re going to have more of an arrangement for an end-user,” he said. “I think in the future, that’s where this is going.”

Pennsylvania is adding more regulations for hemp this year. Deputy Agriculture Secretary Fred Strathmeyer said the state will add more testing for THC, the main psychoactive compound in cannabis.

“Part of our as a job is to make sure our farmers are successful,” Strathmeyer said. “If there is anything I can tell you today is that’s why we’re here, to make them successful. We are learning along with them.”

Pennsylvania farmers who wish to grow hemp in 2020 need to apply for a permit by April 1.

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