The taboo is over, the ban has been lifted and the race has begun as hundreds of Pennsylvania farmers begin growing hemp.
The state Department of Agriculture issued 319 hemp growing permits this year — nearly 10 times the number from last year.
More than 20 of those permits are for operations in Westmoreland and Allegheny counties.
Until this year, the state only allowed farmers to grow small amounts of the crop for research purposes. Thanks to a change in federal law, hemp can now be grown commercially.
Adam Battistella has owned a farm in Hempfield for about 30 years. He used to raise horses, then cattle. He’s semi-retired but decided to get into hemp.
“There’s so many uses for it, and there’s so many varieties you can grow,” he said.
He purchased about 6,000 hemp seeds and has invested about $25,000 into getting