Cornell Cooperative Extension of Allegany County is launching the Industrial Hemp Initiative, a project to analyze the growing, processing, marketing and light manufacturing utilizing industrial hemp grown in the Southern Tier West Region of Allegany, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties.

Farmers, businesses, county and regional development and IDA offices, the New York Farm Bureau and other agricultural agencies as well as colleges and universities in the three-county area have signed on as contributors to the effort.

The opportunity to bring industrial hemp back into production in America has been brought about by an initial authorization to grow in the 2014 Farm Bill, followed by full legalization and authorization to grow Hemp in the 2018 Farm Bill.

Cornell University’s School of Integrated Plant Science (SIPS) has spent the last four years working with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets and federal regulators to ensure the state has a viable program for introducing successful and federally compliant varieties of industrial hemp.

Hemp was so valued that for centuries it was considered a currency because of its durability in sail and rope making.

The Southern Tier West Regional Planning and Development Board will assist with coordination and development of the initial strategy for growing, processing and production across the three-county area and overseeing long range planning.

Southern Tier West notes that the project received $105,000 in Appalachian Region Commission funding “because of the far-reaching partners that are coming together on this project. This project will enable our region to position itself appropriately in the ever growing hemp-based economy.”

For more information, call (585) 268-7644 or visit

Jim Eckstrom is executive editor of the Olean Times Herald and Bradford Publishing Co. His email is