Industrial hemp farmer sends message to people trying to steal, smoke his crop

HELLAM TOWNSHIP, YORK COUNTY, Pa. -- A farmer in York County is sending a message to anyone looking to snatch or smoke his product.

Industrial hemp was banned in Pennsylvania for 80 years, but now, thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, it's being grown in York County.

Farmers say some of their plants are growing to be taller than six feet.

While they look and even smell like marijuana, Nathan Kauffman is warning his green isn’t what some people think.

If people think, Nate Kauffman’s green is meant for illegal smoking, he says ,"you’re wasting your time.”

Marijuana and industrial hemp are in fact from the same species of plant, but Kauffman is growing the latter; it has a very different purpose than its relative.

“This will be used for the fiber, and the fiber goes into all types of different materials," explained Kauffman. "It can go into things like reinforcing of concrete fiber, which is pretty cool.”

By law, the THC in industrial hemp must be less than .3 percent.

“These kids can dry it and smoke it, but it will not get you high," he added.

In case people forget, there are now 100 of these signs which read: “No trespassing. This field contains industrial hemp, not marijuana. No THC. Zero effects if smoked.”

The signs have been divided between 10 different industrial farmers in the area .

“I have a neighbor who reportedly, there were kids running through the field and took a bunch of it. I had no idea what they were doing with it, but I can only imagine," said Kauffman.

The passage of the 2018 Farm Bill gave people and businesses the go ahead to grow industrial hemp. Farming hay and straw since 2009, Kauffman says he quickly hopped on board.

“It costs a lot to plant, and hopefully, it will have a very good return," he said. "I didn’t budget for vandalism, if you will. We’re hoping - in the farming community, we’re pretty trusting people, and hopefully the signs have deterred enough people.”

He planted 160 acres of industrial hemp in hopes of yielding between two to four tons per acre.

“We have really good fertility in this area, so we’re hoping for the best," stated Kauffman.

Kauffman says his plants will stay local; they will go to a processor in Red Lion who will manufacture hemp products.

People can grow hemp in Pennsylvania with a proper permit from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

Right now, there’s no cap on the amount of permits the department can issue.

For more information about Pennsylvania's industrial hemp program, click here.

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