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Programs outline possibilities, future of Hemp at Empire Farm Days

Hemp is hot … and a little bit complicated.

New this year at Empire Farm Days is a Hemp Center, and programs were planned for each of the event’s three days to explain different facets of this up-and-coming crop in New York state.

On Wednesday morning, it was a packed crowd that came to hear four speakers discuss the growing hemp industry. Their topics ranged from the differences between growing hemp for its fiber and seed vs. its CBD (cannabidiol) properties; how New York state is working to support and regulate this new agricultural industry; and how to grow and harvest this plant.

Chris Becker, a plant pathologist with BAAR Scientific LLC in Phelps, noted there are about 50,000 products that can be made with hemp — ranging from hemp seeds which can be added to foods, extracted hemp oil for lotions, cosmetics, salad dressings/marinades and even paint and varnishes; the fibers, which can be used in textiles, paper, as animal bedding and in building materials like insulation and floorboards; and even the highly absorbent leaves, which can be used as mulch and in compost.

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