Developing Technical Skills of Service Providers in the Northeast to Assist Farmers with Production of Industrial Hemp

Final report for ENE20-159

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2020: $185,371.00
Projected End Date: 02/28/2023
Grant Recipients: University of Vermont Extension; Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York
Region: Northeast
State: Vermont
Project Leader:
Dr. Heather Darby
University of Vermont Extension
Expand All

Project Information

Summary:

Problem and Justification:

Given the region-wide expansion of hemp, it is imperative to train agricultural service providers (ASPs) to become more knowledgeable on hemp production to meet the immediate needs of growers. The University of Vermont (UVM) has held events highlighting industrial hemp and over 50% of participants have been ASPs. These events lacked the depth and breadth needed to understand all aspects of the hemp production system. Much of the scientifically backed information published on industrial hemp is tied up in research reports and the peer-reviewed literature, making it difficult for growers, ASPs, and other stakeholders to easily access and navigate. 

Educational Approach:

A multi-year comprehensive hemp training program was developed to build the knowledge base of ASPs. Through the program, ASPs throughout the Northeast were able to engage with regional experts, their peers, and farmers they work with. Those leading the training program created an environment where participants had space to ask questions, actively participate in various aspects of the training, and share their own knowledge on industrial hemp production. Agriculture service providers were provided with a plethora of educational resources, scientific research findings, webinars, and networking opportunities - both in person and online. The in-person field days were limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic but those held were open to individuals outside of this hemp training program. This allowed for a wider audience and provided additional opportunities for participants to meet regional hemp stakeholders. Participants were invited to visit different types of hemp operations both in-person and/or virtually throughout the growing season in Maine, New York, and Vermont. Providing a comprehensive training designed for ASPs to learn technical aspects and current research on hemp production, as well as strategies for communicating effectively with farmers, increased the ability of ASPs to address farmer's concerns. 

The training program included: an online course, 5 optional in-field or virtual intensive trainings, access to the UVM Industrial Hemp Conference (2021, 2022, 2023), access to a cross-platform designed virtual reality (VR)/computer-based decision making tool for hemp growers, virtual office hours with members of the advisory board, and Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) credit. An online course incorporating webinars, videos, and other reference materials, was developed to provide research-based knowledge that includes both conventional and organic approaches delivered through the eXtension Online Campus platform. The online curriculum includes 13 modules that are being delivered over a  period. The direct link to the Industrial Hemp Training Program’s webpage on eXtension: https://campus.extension.org/course/view.php?id=1849.There were 4 infield intensives held at a variety of hemp operations and locations. In addition, 11 topic specific webinars were held to further ASP knowledge base on industrial hemp.

There were 103 ASPs who completed the PDP program. The ASPs worked with 925 farms that were or wanted to produce industrial hemp. Before the course 20% or less of the attendees felt they had "good" knowledge in the hemp production topics offered in the course. Following the course that number increased to 40% and above having "good" knowledge in the topic areas. As a result of taking the class participants increased their ability and comfort for assisting farmers with growing hemp. Before the course only 8% of attendees felt "good" about being able to assist farmers with growing hemp. Following the class 51% of the attendees felt "good" about their ability/knowledge to be able to assist farmers with growing hemp.

Project participants were supplied a final survey to record the impact that their work with farmers has had on the farm's hemp operation. The online survey was sent to PDP participants for a final time in December of 2022 and was distributed after each hemp conference or learning event to gather data.  

Data was summarized from the participants and highlighted the work that they were able to achieve with the farming community.

The post program survey indicated that most participants (n=87) were working with a minimum of 2 farms and a maximum of 38 farms on industrial hemp production. Total number of farmers that were currently growing hemp and receiving technical support was 117. The majority of these farms were growing for flower production (75%) with remaining growing grain (20%) and fiber (5%). The total number of acres being managed by these farms was reported to be 4,389. Established farms were primarily provided technical service in the area of pest management, variety selection, fertility management, and post harvest handling strategies. Participants also reported that they were working with 463 farmers (representing 9,679 acres)  that were interested in growing hemp. These interactions appeared to require a slightly different set of information with more technical service provided in basic agronomics, variety selection, plant propagation, regulation, compliance testing, processing, and marketing. The ASPs indicated they provided technical advice in the field, through phone calls, and emails. Overall, ASPs reported that 65 farms adopted new varieties, 78 integrated pest management techniques, 61 soil management strategies, and 71 other basic agronomic practices. The largest number of farms (112)  adopted quality and compliance testing strategies. A much smaller number of farms adopting new marketing (28) or processing strategies (32). Overall all ASPs reported some level of farmer adoption as a result of their technical assistance. 

As the hemp industry continues to develop and stabilize ASPs will have a good understanding of production requirements for this crop. 

Performance Target:

75 agriculture service providers (ASPs) to provide accurate technical assistance to 225 farmers who  implement 2,250 acres of sustainable industrial hemp for seed, grain, fiber, and flower in the Northeast. As a result 100 farmers will adopt a new practice with the intent of improving yield, reducing production risks, and/or increasing economic returns on 1000 acres of hemp in the northeast.

Introduction:

Hemp production is a rapidly growing industry in the United States with over 500,000  acres  of licensed hemp currently being cultivated. Hemp could be a significant economic driver and could help create new farming and business opportunities and potentially provide social and environmental benefits that  complement current agricultural production systems in the northeast.

As acreage of hemp  increases in the Northeast and growing practices are established, the impacts of crop loss due to lack of/or improper fertility, pest  and disease management, storage and drying are becoming more  evident. Clearly, the industry is growing rapidly and scientific-based research and education is critical to help farmers  succeed with this new commercial crop.

Cooperative Extension staff,  crop consultants, and NRCS personnel need  research-based information to respond to questions coming from farmer  clients to address hemp  production issues. Given the region-wide expansion of the crop, it is imperative to train agricultural service providers (ASPs) to become  more  knowledgeable on hemp  production to meet  the immediate needs  of growers.

Through this project a comprehensive training program in hemp education was developed for ASPs in the northeast. Agriculture service providers were provided with a diverse set of educational resources, scientific research findings, webinars, and networking opportunities - both  in person  and online. The in-person field days were limited due to the pandemic but a in-depth online webinar series that involved guest growers helped us reach a wider audience. Participants were invited to visit or tour virtually different types  of hemp  operations throughout the growing season in Maine, New York, and Vermont. Providing a comprehensive training designed for ASPs to learn technical aspects and current  research on hemp  production, as well as strategies for communicating effectively with farmers, resulted in more  acres  of hemp  being sustainably grown and successfully harvested and sold.

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info
  • Lauren Tonti (Educator)
  • Robert Perry (Educator)
  • Scott Lewins (Educator and Researcher)

Educational Approach

Educational approach:

2020 Report

Online Course
An online course incorporating webinars, videos, and other reference materials, was developed to provide research-based knowledge that includes both conventional and organic approaches delivered through the eXtension Online Campus platform. The online curriculum includes 13 modules that are being delivered over a  period. The direct link to the Industrial Hemp Training Program’s webpage on eXtension: https://campus.extension.org/course/view.php?id=1849.

The advisory team started to meet in July of 2020 to develop the course curriculum. The advisory team included individuals from ME, NY, MA, and VT. The course curriculum as mentioned above includes 13 modules that involve a "live" webinar held over a course of four months. The series began November 3, 2020. Each webinar hosts a different expert practitioner/researcher presenting on a topic related to industrial hemp. Topics include: business planning & economics, general hemp agronomics, integrated pest management, all things organic, hemp propagation & seeding production, modern hemp policy, resinous hemp production, grain hemp production, fiber hemp production, processing resinous hemp, processing hemp for grain, processing hemp for fiber, and a hemp panel. Each webinar ends with a question and answer period, giving service providers the ability to ask questions and facilitate discussion with advisors and guest speakers.

The online course includes the recorded archived webinars, educational videos, factsheets, URLs to informational hemp websites, mini-quizzes, forums, research reports, and other reference materials to provide service providers with additional research-based and practical information. Through participating in the webinars and completing the quizzes, participants can earn up to 13 Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) continuing education credits. The performance targets and expectations have been clearly shared during "live" webinars and within the course materials.

The advisory group began planning for the in-field intensive portion (set for the 2021 growing season), however, this portion may need to be modified to follow the U.S. Center for Disease Control/State COVID-19 guidelines/restrictions. This portion of the program is designed to focus on hands-on learning activities which allow service providers to learn practical tools to utilize with farmers. The in-person series plans to visit four farms and one processing facility. Participants were eligible to earn CCA credits for each in-field intensive training they attend but are only required to attend one. Participants also gain access to the 2021, 2022 and 2023 Industrial Hemp Conference hosted by UVM Extension. The UVM Extension hemp conference was virtual in 2021 and held on February 26th.

2021 Report

The advisory group met on March 17, 2021 to determine framework and topics for the in-field intensive portion. Due to the pandemic the meetings were scheduled for in-person and also online participation.  In-person events were hosted in Maine, Vermont, and New York with supplemental virtual offerings throughout the season. The webinar topics and intensive offerings were put together based on feedback from the PDP participants.  In-person events were also open to farmers.

In person events were as follows:

  1. July 8, 2021—University of Maine Rogers Farm, Old Town, MaineJohn Jemison, University of Maine Cooperative Extension Professor of Soil and Water Quality, hosted an in-person field day. 12 growers, 3 DACF personnel, 5 TSPs, 5 Extension, and 3 educators (a total of 28) attendees came. Demonstration of the roller crimper to lay down a winter rye cover crop, see results of that compared to sickle bar mowed rye, powered cultivation and traditional black plastic for weed management. Demonstration of cultivation tools with Eric Gallandt’s team. Discuss crop rotation, disease reduction, and common insect pests. The hemp team (Mary Yurlina and Gary Fish) at the Department of Agriculture will discuss the latest legislation, and the future of Maine’s licensing program.
  2. July 23, 2021—SUNY Morrisville, New YorkJennifer Gilbert Jenkins, SUNY Morrisville Division of Animal & Plant Sciences & Agricultural Business Assistant Professor, hosted an in-person field day looking at a fiber variety trial as well as hemp for extracts, focusing on in-season management decisions and variety comparisons in both the fiber hemp as well as extract hemp fields. NOFA-NY covered organic certification requirements. There were 4 attendees who were local folks interested in learning about the crop and 1 grower.  We started at our CBD field and talked about how the growing season was going and what in-season decision making changes were made to account for the excessively wet season.  We then travelled to our fiber crop field and discussed how the growing season impacted the 5 varieties that we were growing.  While it was a positive experience and folks were happy, it was a small hemp meeting. We believe that was due to a very wet summer and 2 beautiful sunny days around the event, keeping everyone out in the fields.
  3. August 10, 2021—Borderview Research Farm, Alburgh, VermontHeather Darby, University of Vermont Extension Professor: Agronomy Specialist, and the Northwest Crops and Soils team hosted an in-person field day. There were 65 attendees. We toured the research farm visiting many CBD, fiber, and grain trails while hearing about the most up-to-date research happening in Vermont. Trials included: variety, fertility, pest & disease scouting, harvest date, and more. We then went into the barn for hands-on demonstrations of the oil press, spinning fiber hemp for yarn with Laura Sullivan of UVM, and paper making with Steve Kostell of UVM.
  4. September 10, 2021—Sheepscot General Store & Farm, Whitefield, MaineCaleb Goossen, Maine Organic Farmers Association Organic Crop and Conservation Specialist, hosted this in-person field day through MOFGA’s farmer-to-farmer events at Sheepscot General. There were 9 farmers present and 4 ag service providers (13 total attendees). Farmer participants traveled from as far as VT and Western MA. Mary Yurlina scheduled a complementing SIGME (stakeholder information gathering meeting) before the tour, sharing information about Maine's current hemp program, and informing and gathering information about how the legislature and the Dept of Ag, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) may attempt to move forward (i.e., USDA licensing requirements or standalone program). The host farmer, Ben Marcus then gave a walking tour of his pick your own (PYO) production area, with conversation ranging from production techniques, fertility, variety selection (and variety trialing), to PYO marketing and the history they've had with it (pros and cons), and some conversation on how he's setting his price.  Multiple farmer-to-farmer connections were made, with discussions ranging from cooperative marketing, and cooperative purchasing of biocontrol insects, etc.

 

The PDP course hosted by the Extension Foundation website: 

Industrial Hemp Training Program – Resinous Production 

1/5/21 

Virtual 

39 

John Jemison 

Industrial Hemp Training Program – Grain Production 

1/12/21 

Virtual 

44 

Heather Darby 

Industrial Hemp Training Program – Fiber Production 

1/19/21 

Virtual 

44 

Jennifer Gilbert Jenkins 

Industrial Hemp Training Program – Processing Resinous  

1/26/21 

Virtual 

49 

Dan Summa 

Industrial Hemp Training Program – Processing Grain 

2/2/21 

Virtual 

41 

Jeff Kostuik 

Industrial Hemp Training Program – Processing Fiber 

2/9/21 

Virtual 

50 

Steve Kostell 

Industrial Hemp Training Program - Panel 

2/16/21 

Virtual 

53 

Dan Dolgin, Willie Gibson, Sam Bellavance, Cy Kupersmith 

Industrial Hemp Training Program – Fiber 

9/21/21 

Virtual 

18 

Jennifer Gilbert Jenkins, Heather Darby, Dan Dolgin, Laura Sullivan 

Industrial Hemp Training Program –CBD 

9/28/21 

Virtual 

34 

Jennifer Gilbert Jenkins, Heather Darby, Scott Lewins 

 

We offered additional hemp webinars to complement the in-field intensives which were advertised to and attended by Industrial Hemp Training Program attendees and others. 

Hemp Production Webinar Series - Growing High Quality Hemp Starts 

4/12/21 

Virtual 

57 

Gretchen Schimelpfenig, Chris Grigsby, Lauren Tonti 

Hemp Production Webinar Series - Hemp Irrigation Systems 

5/11/21 

Virtual 

36

Gretchen Schimelpfenig 

Hemp Production Webinar Series – Development of Triploid Hemp Varieties 

5/20/21 

Virtual 

43 

Seth Crawford 

Hemp Production Webinar Series – Old Solutions to New Problems, Building with Hemp 

6/24/21 

Virtual 

26 

Alex Escher 

Hemp Production Webinar Series – Manufacturing Hemp Products 

7/29/21 

Virtual 

25 

Omar Oyarzabal 

Hemp Production Webinar Series – State of Play: Vermont Hemp Policy 

9/13/21 

Virtual 

27 

Stephanie Smith 

Hemp Production Webinar Series – Hemp Chemicals and the Effects on the Human Body 

9/14/21 

Virtual 

26 

Monique McHenry 

Hemp Production Webinar Series – Researching the Market 

10/6/21 

Virtual 

17 

Rose Wilson 

Hemp Production Webinar Series – Assessing the Market 

10/13/21 

Virtual 

19 

Rose Wilson 

Hemp Production Webinar Series – A New Venture 

10/20/21 

Virtual 

14 

Rose Wilson, Travis Samuels 

Hemp Production Webinar Series – Fire Safety and Building Requirements 

11/4/21 

Virtual 

19 

Ben Moffatt, Landon Wheeler 

 

Participants were able to attend the 2021, 2022, and 2023 Industrial Hemp Conference hosted by UVM Extension free of charge. The UVM Extension hemp conferences were  virtual .  An average 76% of the Industrial Hemp Training Program attended at least one of the Industrial Hemp Conference.

 

Milestones

Milestone #1 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:
The Industrial Hemp Training Program will be developed and reviewed by an advisory board comprised of hemp growers, researchers, ASPs, and outreach experts headed by Dr. Heather Darby. The board will determine common obstacles to implementing a successful hemp program, address these issues through field-proven technical knowledge, and develop a training plan that will best enable the ASPs to support their farmers in sustainably growing industrial hemp.
Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
2
Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
7
Actual number of farmer beneficiaries who participated:
2
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
9
Proposed Completion Date:
20200831
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
20200803
Accomplishments:

The Industrial Hemp Training Program’s curriculum plan was completed and reviewed by the advisory board. The board determined common obstacles to implementing a successful hemp program, addressed these issues through field-proven technical knowledge, and developed a training plan that will best enable the ASPs to support their farmers in sustainably growing industrial hemp. Advisors also brainstormed potential speakers for each topic and planned for contacting those individuals. The full webinar schedule was finalized by the advisory group and an advertisement flyer was created by the UVM team which included logos and information on how to register. The UVM team pulled together and organized hemp-related resources, and built the Industrial Hemp Training Program’s online platform via Extension’s online campus at campus.extension.org. The direct link to the Industrial Hemp Training Program’s webpage on eXtension: https://campus.extension.org/course/view.php?id=1849.

Milestone #2 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:
600 ASPs receive recruitment invitations to participate in the hemp training program. Recruitment will begin by advertising to participants from the No-Till Training Program (79 ASPs), 2019 and 2020 UVM Industrial Hemp Conferences (139 ASPs in 2019). Additionally, Certified Crop Advisors (338 CCAs), and other ASPs engaged with our program’s social media, listservs, and newsletters (1,350) will be contacted. Recruitment resources will be detailed and enable the participants to learn about the project, its goals and performance objective.
Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
600
Actual number of farmer beneficiaries who participated:
940
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
956
Proposed Completion Date:
20200831
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
20200915
Accomplishments:

Recruitment began by advertising to participants from the current PDP No-Till Training Program (79 ASPs), 2020 UVM Industrial Hemp Conferences (139 ASPs in 2020). Additionally, Certified Crop Advisors (338 CCAs), and other ASPs engaged with our program’s social media, listservs, and newsletters (1,350) were contacted. Recruitment resources (advertisement flyer, emails, website postings) were detailed and enabled the participants to learn about the project, its goals, the schedule/expectations, and performance objective. The Hemp PDP Course Recruitment advertisement was shared through the aforementioned distribution channels.

Milestone #3 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:
100 interested ASPs will apply for the PDP program through a designated website designed to collect basic information about the student as well as ability/interest in attending complete PDP training.
Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
100
Actual number of farmer beneficiaries who participated:
72
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
144
Proposed Completion Date:
20200930
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
20201006
Accomplishments:

There was considerable interest in the Hemp Course from around the globe. Parties from Vermont to Australia applied to participate in the program. Interested participants applied for the Industrial Hemp Training Program though Eventbrite.com. Through registration we collected basic information about the students as well as their ability/interest in attending the complete and participate in the entire training program. Registration for the training program was advertised as previously mentioned. Although the training was clearly advertised for service providers many farmers contacted our program interested in the attending the type of program being offered. Clearly there is a demand for high quality hemp information from a large variety of stakeholders. Participants that indicated their ability to participate in the entire program were registered for the program. There were a total of 103 individuals that met the criteria.

Milestone #4 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:
75 successful ASPs will be notified of acceptance into the program. Students will be asked to complete a baseline survey to identify their current knowledge and experience with hemp production as well as areas that they would like additional education/training.
Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
75
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
103
Proposed Completion Date:
20201031
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
20201103
Accomplishments:

There were 103 participants registered to participate in the Hemp PDP Training Program. The project expected some attrition and allowed more than the planned 75 participants.  All of the 103 participants completed the Pre-Training Survey hosted through SurveyMonkey.com. This survey set a baseline which was used to evaluate the effectiveness of the training program, and gathered more-detailed information about individual ASPs. A 4-page ‘Welcome Letter’ was created by the UVM team and emailed to participating ASPs. This comprehensive document contains course contacts, funding credits, expectations/requirements of participants, training program schedules, and directions on how to access the training program’s webpage. The pre-course survey and the 'Welcome Letter' can be viewed at the following links:

Pre-course Survey for Hemp Professional Training

Welcome Letter Industrial Hemp Intensive Training Program

The pre-course survey results indicated that the ASPs were working with a total of 925 farms that were currently or considering growing hemp. The majority of the farmers were growing hemp for flower production. Nearly 40% of attendees were independent consultants and the remaining fell among a range of other sectors including university, bankers, organic certifiers, fertilizer dealers, and government or non-governmental organizations.

  • Registered TSPs:  103
  • Number of farmers participating TSPs worked with that grow hemp: 925 farmers
    • Grain hemp farmers: 47 farmers
    • How many acres does this represent? 2,884 acres
    • Fiber hemp farmers: 36 farmers
    • How many acres does this represent? 1,594 acres
    • Flower hemp farmers: 468 farmers
    • How many acres does this represent? 59,300.95 acres
  • Number of farmers participating TSPs worked with that are considering growing hemp: 359 farmers
Milestone #5 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:
75 participating ASPs will attend the online hemp training course. The ASPs will complete 12 modules held over a 5-month period. There will be quick-poll surveys after each webinar to document knowledge gained by the ASP. At the end of the online training TSP knowledge will be re-assessed and additional learning needs recorded. This information will help further shape the field intensives.
Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
75
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
103
Proposed Completion Date:
20210430
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
20210226
Accomplishments:

Participating ASPs attend the online hemp training course through active participation in a live winter webinar series. The ASPs were required to complete at least 7 of the 13 modules held over a 4-month period. There are brief surveys after each webinar to document knowledge gained by the ASP. At the end of the online training portion, ASP knowledge will be re-assessed, and additional learning needs recorded. This information will help further shape the in-field intensives.

As of January 15, 2021, the first seven webinars in the series have been hosted live. Business Planning & Economics on 11/3/20 had 89 live participants, Agronomics on 11/10/20 had 82 live participants, IPM on 11/17/20 had 58 live participants, All Things Organic on 12/1/20 had 66 live participants, Propagation & Seedling Production on 12/8/20 had 59 live participants, Modern Hemp Policy on 12/15/20 had 54 live participants, and Resinous Hemp Production on 1/5/21 had 53 live participants. The remaining course webinars offered in 2021 are listed below. Participants were able to attend all of the webinars below but were required to attend at least 6.

Industrial Hemp Training Program – Resinous Production 

1/5/21 

Virtual 

39 

John Jemison 

Industrial Hemp Training Program – Grain Production 

1/12/21 

Virtual 

44 

Heather Darby 

Industrial Hemp Training Program – Fiber Production 

1/19/21 

Virtual 

44 

Jennifer Gilbert Jenkins 

Industrial Hemp Training Program – Processing Resinous  

1/26/21 

Virtual 

49 

Dan Summa 

Industrial Hemp Training Program – Processing Grain 

2/2/21 

Virtual 

41 

Jeff Kostuik 

Industrial Hemp Training Program – Processing Fiber 

2/9/21 

Virtual 

50 

Steve Kostell 

Industrial Hemp Training Program - Panel 

2/16/21 

Virtual 

53 

Dan Dolgin, Willie Gibson, Sam Bellavance, Cy Kupersmith 

 

All webinars are recorded, edited, then posted on the training program website within one week of the live presentation.

Each webinar has accompanying hemp-related resources for added education opportunities and a forum to promote networking and discussion amongst ASPs. The webinar series was completed on February 16, 2021.

Milestone #6 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:
The 75 ASP project participants and 500 attendees at the 2021 Hemp Conference learn how to use VR technology to improve hemp production skills and knowledge.
Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
350
Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
150
Actual number of farmer beneficiaries who participated:
82
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
103
Proposed Completion Date:
20210228
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
20210226
Accomplishments:

The 2021 Hemp Conference had to be held virtually due to the pandemic. Attendance was much lower than the in-person conferences.This was a day long conference hosted through a virtual conference platform. The platform allowed attendees access to on-demand presentations and handouts one week before the conference. All recorded presentations were made available for two weeks following the conference.

The hemp conference allowed for significant knowledge gain with over 25 presentations. There were both live presentations allowing for Q&A. Each of these sessions were one hour in length. There were also 13 on-demand presentations that ranged from 20 to 30 minutes each. The flyer can be accessed here   Hemp Conference Brochure -2021.

The virtual scouting tool was not completed for the 2021 hemp conference. The virtual tool will be demonstrated at the 2022 hemp conference.

Milestone #7 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:
75 ASP participants attend at least 1 of the 5 hemp in-field intensives that are hosted by collaborating farms and organizations. These hands-on workshops will foster a stronger working knowledge of hemp production systems, business models, agronomics, pest management, irrigation, soil management, and equipment, . These workshops will provide the hands on training necessary for the ASPs to properly instruct clients on how to produce a successful hemp crop and/or enterprise. Regulatory compliance will also be discussed.
Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
75
Actual number of farmer beneficiaries who participated:
222
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
156
Proposed Completion Date:
20221130
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
20211130
Accomplishments:

The advisory group met to determine framework and topics for the in-field intensive portion. Due to the pandemic the meetings were scheduled for in-person and also online participation.  In-person events were hosted in Maine, Vermont, and New York with supplemental virtual offerings.

In person events were as follows:

  1. July 8, 2021—University of Maine Rogers Farm, Old Town, MaineJohn Jemison, University of Maine Cooperative Extension Professor of Soil and Water Quality, hosted an in-person field day. Demonstration of the roller crimper to lay down a winter rye cover crop, see results of that compared to sickle bar mowed rye, powered cultivation and traditional black plastic for weed management. Demonstration of cultivation tools with Eric Gallandt’s team. Discuss crop rotation, disease reduction, and common insect pests. The hemp team (Mary Yurlina and Gary Fish) at the Department of Agriculture will discuss the latest legislation, and the future of Maine’s licensing program.
  2. July 23, 2021—SUNY Morrisville, New YorkJennifer Gilbert Jenkins, SUNY Morrisville Division of Animal & Plant Sciences & Agricultural Business Assistant Professor, hosted an in-person field day looking at a fiber variety trial as well as hemp for extracts, focusing on in-season management decisions and variety comparisons in both the fiber hemp as well as extract hemp fields. NOFA-NY covered organic certification requirements.  We started at our CBD field and talked about how the growing season was going and what in-season decision making changes were made to account for the excessively wet season.  We then travelled to our fiber crop field and discussed how the growing season impacted the 5 varieties that we were growing.  While it was a positive experience and folks were happy, it was a small hemp meeting. We believe that was due to a very wet summer and 2 beautiful sunny days around the event, keeping everyone out in the fields.
  3. August 10, 2021—Borderview Research Farm, Alburgh, VermontHeather Darby, University of Vermont Extension Professor: Agronomy Specialist, and the Northwest Crops and Soils team hosted an in-person field day. We toured the research farm visiting many CBD, fiber, and grain trails while hearing about the most up-to-date research happening in Vermont. Trials included: variety, fertility, pest & disease scouting, harvest date, and more. We then went into the barn for hands-on demonstrations of the oil press, spinning fiber hemp for yarn with Laura Sullivan of UVM, and paper making with Steve Kostell of UVM.
  4. September 10, 2021—Sheepscot General Store & Farm, Whitefield, MaineCaleb Goossen, Maine Organic Farmers Association Organic Crop and Conservation Specialist, hosted this in-person field day through MOFGA’s farmer-to-farmer events at Sheepscot General. Mary Yurlina scheduled a complementing SIGME (stakeholder information gathering meeting) before the tour, sharing information about Maine's current hemp program, and informing and gathering information about how the legislature and the Dept of Ag, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) may attempt to move forward (i.e., USDA licensing requirements or standalone program). The host farmer, Ben Marcus then gave a walking tour of his pick your own (PYO) production area, with conversation ranging from production techniques, fertility, variety selection (and variety trialing), to PYO marketing and the history they've had with it (pros and cons), and some conversation on how he's setting his price.  Multiple farmer-to-farmer connections were made, with discussions ranging from cooperative marketing, and cooperative purchasing of biocontrol insects, etc.

Due to the ongoing pandemic continued education was also offered through virtual events. Webinar topics were chosen based on PDP participant feedback after completing the course. The webinars were also made available to a broader audience.

 

Hemp Production Webinar Series - Growing High Quality Hemp Starts 

4/12/21 

Virtual 

57 

Gretchen Schimelpfenig, Chris Grigsby, Lauren Tonti 

Hemp Production Webinar Series - Hemp Irrigation Systems 

5/11/21 

Virtual 

36

Gretchen Schimelpfenig 

Hemp Production Webinar Series – Development of Triploid Hemp Varieties 

5/20/21 

Virtual 

43 

Seth Crawford 

Hemp Production Webinar Series – Old Solutions to New Problems, Building with Hemp 

6/24/21 

Virtual 

26 

Alex Escher 

Hemp Production Webinar Series – Manufacturing Hemp Products 

7/29/21 

Virtual 

25 

Omar Oyarzabal 

Hemp Production Webinar Series – State of Play: Vermont Hemp Policy 

9/13/21 

Virtual 

27 

Stephanie Smith 

Hemp Production Webinar Series – Hemp Chemicals and the Effects on the Human Body 

9/14/21 

Virtual 

26 

Monique McHenry 

Hemp Production Webinar Series – Researching the Market 

10/6/21 

Virtual 

17 

Rose Wilson 

Hemp Production Webinar Series – Assessing the Market 

10/13/21 

Virtual 

19 

Rose Wilson 

Hemp Production Webinar Series – A New Venture 

10/20/21 

Virtual 

14 

Rose Wilson, Travis Samuels 

Hemp Production Webinar Series – Fire Safety and Building Requirements 

11/4/21 

Virtual 

19 

Ben Moffatt, Landon Wheeler 

Milestone #8 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:
The 75 ASP project participants will attend the 2022 Hemp Conference and at the end of the conference develop a plan and timeline on how they will implement the information they learned in the program with farmers that they work with in 2022.
Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
75
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
61
Proposed Completion Date:
20220228
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
20220315
Accomplishments:

All PDP participants were provided access to the 2022 Hemp Conference held virtually on March 15, 2022. The Hemp Conference remained virtual due to the ongoing pandemic and the quick downturn in the hemp market. The crash of the CBD market led to a severe reduction in registered growers. Many of the individuals involved in the PDP course had already exited the industry and some asked to be removed from your list. However, there were many PDP participants that agenda conference. Since the conference was virtual, PDP course participants were not able to sit as a group and develop plans collectively. Communication happened regular with participants and requests to keep track/monitor their work and impact with growers. 

The conference agenda can be found: 2022 HempConfAgenda FINAL

Milestone #9 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:
Following the training, 75 project participants will be provided with various communication tools to be able to ask questions, share information, and support their learning throughout the project period. First virtual office hours will be available that allow participants to ask experts questions that they may be having as they work with farmers to adopt hemp production. In addition, a project listserve will be created so all participants can communicate with each other, ask questions, and share ideas or experiences. Lastly a quarterly survey will be sent to participants to record interactions with farmers, knowledge shared, and practices that the farmers implemented or adopted. These tools will be used to support participants throughout the project period and assist with performance target verification
Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
75
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
61
Proposed Completion Date:
20230131
Status:
In Progress
Accomplishments:

As part of attending the PDP online course, all project participants were given access to all course materials through the online course platform. The online course platform provided a means to communicate with other course participants via a listserve and forum feature. Through forum feature, topics were started and others can chime in on the topic. There was an active forum disease control and fertilizer management as examples. The listserve allowed participants to communicate with the larger group on broad topics and also communicate directly with instructors/organizers. The project team used it to distribute surveys, alert participants of news, and post new resources or events.  Reminders were sent to complete surveys to document performance target. 

Milestone #10 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:
Project participants will be supplied a final survey to record the impact that their work with farmers has had on the farm's hemp operation. The goal will be to document if the farmers adopted new practices (highlighting specific practices) and the intended impact that those practices would have on the farming operation (yield, marketing, economics, etc).
Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
100
Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
75
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
60
Proposed Completion Date:
20230228
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
20230228
Accomplishments:

Project participants were supplied a final survey to record the impact that their work with farmers has had on the farm's hemp operation. The online survey was sent to PDP participants for a final time in December of 2022.  

Dats was summarized from the participants and highlighted the work that they were able to achieve with the farming community.

Post program survey indicated that most participants were working with a minimum of 2 farms and a maximum of 38 farms on industrial hemp production. Total number of farmers that were currently growing hemp and receiving technical support was 117. The majority of these farms were growing for flower production (75%) with remaining growing grain (20%) and fiber (5%). The total number of acres being managed by these farms was reported to be 4,389. Established farms were primarily provided technical service in the area of pest management, variety selection, fertility management, and post harvest handling strategies. Participants also reported that they were working with 463 farmers (representing 9,679 acres)  that were interested in growing hemp. These interactions appeared to require a slightly different set of information with more technical service provided in basic agronomics, variety selection, plant propagation, regulation, compliance testing, processing, and marketing. The ASPs indicated they provided technical advice in the field, through phone calls, and emails. 

Milestone Activities and Participation Summary

Educational activities and events conducted by the project team:

66 Consultations
1 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
1 Online trainings
13 Webinars / talks / presentations
4 Workshop field days
3 Other educational activities: Hemp Conference in 2021 with 25 webinar presentations.
Hemp Conference in 2022 with 21 webinar presentations.
Hemp Conference in 2023 with 11 webinar presentations.

Participants in the project’s educational activities:

32 Extension
21 NRCS
18 Researchers
16 Nonprofit
25 Agency
47 Ag service providers (other or unspecified)
223 Farmers/ranchers
223 Farmers participated

Learning Outcomes

87 Agricultural service providers reported changes in knowledge, skills and/or attitudes as a result of their participation.
76 Ag service providers intend to use knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness learned through this project in their educational activities and services for farmers
Key areas in which the service providers (and farmers if indicated above) reported a change in knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness::

A pre-course survey was required to participate in the PDP Hemp Training. This allowed us to gain baseline knowledge in regards to hemp production. A post-course survey was administered to document changes in knowledge and intent to use the knowledge related to the production of hemp.
Changes in knowledge were documented for the following areas:
Cost of production
Regulations
Soil requirements
Pest Management
Propagation
Basic Agronomics
Organic Production
Water requirements

Generally before the course 20% or less of the attendees felt they had "good" knowledge in these topic areas. Following the course that number increased to 40% and above having "good" knowledge in the topic areas.

As a result of taking the class participants increased their ability and comfort for assisting farmers with growing hemp. Before the course only 8% of attendees felt "good" about being able to assist farmers with growing hemp. Following the class 51% of the attendees felt "good" about their ability/knowledge to be able to assist farmers with growing hemp.

Performance Target Outcomes

Performance Target Outcomes - Service Providers

Target #1

Target: number of service providers who will take action to educate/advise farmers:
75
Target: actions the service providers will take:

75 agriculture service providers (ASPs) to provide accurate technical assistance to 225 farmers who  implement 2,250 acres of sustainable industrial hemp for seed, grain, fiber, and flower in the Northeast.

Target: number of farmers the service providers will educate/advise:
100
Target: amount of production these farmers manage:

As a result 100 farmers will adopt a new practice with the intent of improving yield, reducing production risks, and/or increasing economic returns on 1000 acres of hemp in the northeast.

Verified: number of service providers who reported taking actions to educate/advice farmers:
87
Verified: number of farmers the service providers reported educating/advising through their actions:
580
Verified: amount of production these farmers manage:

14068

Activities for farmers conducted by service providers:
  • 1740 Consultations
  • 2 On-farm demonstrations
  • 2 Published press articles/newsletters
87 Total number of agricultural service provider participants who used knowledge and skills learned through this project (or incorporated project materials) in their educational activities, services, information products and/or tools for farmers
580 Farmers reached through participant's programs
Performance target outcome for service providers narrative:

Project participants were supplied a final survey to record the impact that their work with farmers has had on the farm's hemp operation. The online survey was sent to PDP participants for a final time in December of 2022 but was distributed after each hemp conference or learning event to gather data.  

Data was summarized from the participants and highlighted the work that they were able to achieve with the farming community.

Post program survey indicated that most participants were working with a minimum of 2 farms and a maximum of 38 farms on industrial hemp production. Total number of farmers that were currently growing hemp and receiving technical support was 117. The majority of these farms were growing for flower production (75%) with remaining growing grain (20%) and fiber (5%). The total number of acres being managed by these farms was reported to be 4,389. Established farms were primarily provided technical service in the area of pest management, variety selection, fertility management, and post harvest handling strategies. Participants also reported that they were working with 463 farmers (representing 9,679 acres)  that were interested in growing hemp. These interactions appeared to require a slightly different set of information with more technical service provided in basic agronomics, variety selection, plant propagation, regulation, compliance testing, processing, and marketing. The ASPs indicated they provided technical advice in the field, through phone calls, and emails. The ASPs reported that 65 farms adopted new varieties, 78 integrated pest management techniques, 61 soil management strategies, and 71 other basic agronomic practices. The largest number of farms (112)  adopted quality and compliance testing strategies. A much smaller number of farms adopting new marketing (28) or processing strategies (32). Overall all ASPs reported some level of farmer adoption as a result of their technical assistance. 

 

Performance Target Outcomes - Farmers

Target #1

Target: number of farmers who will make a change/adopt of practice:
100
Target: the change or adoption the farmers will make:
Farmers will adopt a new practice or strategy with the intent to improve one of the following a. yield/quality of hemp b. business risk c. economic returns
Target: total size/scale of farmers these farmers manage:
It is estimated that the 100 farms would manage at least 1000 acres of hemp.
Verified: number of farmers who made a change/adopted a practice:

112
Verified: size/scale of farms these farmers manage:

4389
Performance target outcome for farmers narrative:

Project participants were supplied a final survey to record the impact that their work with farmers has had on the farm's hemp operation. The online survey was sent to PDP participants for a final time in December of 2022 but was distributed after each hemp conference or learning event to gather data.  

Data was summarized from the participants and highlighted the work that they were able to achieve with the farming community.

Post program survey indicated that most participants were working with a minimum of 2 farms and a maximum of 38 farms on industrial hemp production. Total number of farmers that were currently growing hemp and receiving technical support was 117. The majority of these farms were growing for flower production (75%) with remaining growing grain (20%) and fiber (5%). The total number of acres being managed by these farms was reported to be 4,389. Established farms were primarily provided technical service in the area of pest management, variety selection, fertility management, and post harvest handling strategies. Participants also reported that they were working with 463 farmers (representing 9,679 acres)  that were interested in growing hemp. These interactions appeared to require a slightly different set of information with more technical service provided in basic agronomics, variety selection, plant propagation, regulation, compliance testing, processing, and marketing. The ASPs indicated they provided technical advice in the field, through phone calls, and emails. The ASPs reported that 65 farms adopted new varieties, 78 integrated pest management techniques, 61 soil management strategies, and 71 other basic agronomic practices. The largest number of farms (112)  adopted quality and compliance testing strategies. A much smaller number of farms adopting new marketing (28) or processing strategies (32). Overall all ASPs reported some level of farmer adoption as a result of their technical assistance. 

Additional Project Outcomes

1 Grant applied for that built upon this project
1 Grant received that built upon this project
$200,000.00 Dollar amount of grant received that built upon this project
3 New working collaborations
Assessment of Project Approach and Areas of Further Study:

The educational approach worked very well for the project. It was especially successful because we had planned an online course and with the pandemic that was really our only option. Our past experience with online learning helped our team develop a successful curriculum. The online course also allowed participants from across the globe. We had participants from Australia, Africa, and Europe. The pivot to topic focused webinars combined with in-field intensives allowed those that were far away to continue to learn and interact with their peers. The challenge is always keeping everyone engaged through out a multi year education program. It always seems as though participants are really excited and motivated in the first year with some attrition over time. Collecting final verification data was not easy especially since the hemp market crashed and many individuals moved away from hemp. Thankfully we tracked impact data each year of the program and was able to meet our verification targets. 

Information Products

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.