Virginia is quickly producing one of the most robust hemp industries in the country and building at rapid rates.
Data from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services details the staggering rise of hemp in the state. In mid-2018, there were only 135 acres of hemp planted and about 85 registered growers. That number has since soared to 2,200 acres of hemp and 1,183 registered growers. Additionally, 262 processors and 117 dealers are also part of Virginia’s hemp industry. The number of hemp acres will likely rise next year as growers ramp up for harvest in the spring.
The state also remains committed to expansion. WTVR reports on Gov. Ralph Northam confirming that the town of Wytheville will house the state’s first commercial industrial hemp fiber processing facility. Appalachian Biomass Processing will purchase over 6,000 tons of state-grown hemp in the next three years. This $1 million hemp purchase will also help create 13 jobs.
“I am committed to pursuing every path that will attract economic prosperity to our rural communities,” writes Northam. “Hemp production opens up a wealth of opportunity to bring new jobs and new business to Virginia.”
It’s possible that Virginia could raise even more money through the registration process to grow hemp. State hemp grower, processor and dealer registrations cost $50, compared to $250 in states including Maryland and North Carolina.
Historic Hemp Plants
Even historic sites in Virginia are adding hemp back to their facilities. George Washington’s historic Mount Vernon estate now has legal hemp plants for the first time in over 200 years. The current hemp plot is only for demonstration purposes, but the plants are eight feet tall.
“It’s been tremendously exciting to bring back a crop that hasn’t been grown since Washington’s day. That’s kind of our mission, trying to represent this site as it was during his time,” said Dean Norton, the estate’s Director of Horticulture. “But I think it can become an amazing commercial crop for the state of Virginia.”