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The economics of industrial hemp production looking up

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R. J. Anderson
/
Cornell University
Hemp growing at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station.

It is no secret Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been pushing for New York to invest more in hemp production and processing. On Wednesday, agriculture leaders are meeting at Cornell University's Ithaca campus in hopes of building upon early investments from the state.

"The state's really looking at any way to preserve farmland, enhance farmland, and hemp offers a lot of opportunities," said Plant Sciences Labs owner Mike Barnhart, "and also because of the scope of the use of this plant, it has a lot of spinoff businesses that result from it."

Plant Science Labs provides dehydration and milling contract manufacturing services for the food and nutrition industry. It just so happens a few uses for hemp include fiber processing and food materials. Barnhart said his company aims to bring legitimacy to the entire business.

"We've been manufacturing nutritional products for 25 years and we understand all the food safety regulations, as well as nutritional product regulations in order to make a safe and effective product with all the proper regulations addressed for safe food production," Barnhart said.

The next step for hemp production is to start using modern food safety and production techniques. Barnhart said this is a chance to make New York State a leader in this field.

"The demand for hemp products seems to be growing daily," he said. "You know, we're receiving a constant stream of inquiries from businesses that want to work with us in this arena. It seems to be gaining a lot of momentum."

Nick Lippa leads our Arts & Culture Coverage, and is also the lead reporter for the station's Mental Health Initiative, profiling the struggles and triumphs of those who battle mental health issues and the related stigma that can come from it.
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