Development of Hemp Production Resources for New Jersey

Final report for SNE20-009-NJ

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2020: $39,462.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2021
Grant Recipient: Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station Cooperative Extension
Region: Northeast
State: New Jersey
State Coordinators:
Michelle Infante-Casella
Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station Cooperative Extension
Co-Coordinators:
Stephen Komar
Rutgers University, Rutgers Cooperative Extension
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Project Information

Summary:

Hemp is a "new" crop for most producers. The Agriculture Improvement Act (2018 Farm Bill) established regulations to implement the legal production of hemp provided that the crop is grown in compliance with a state program or, in the absence of a program, under the federal USDA program. These regulations essentially removed hemp as a schedule 1 drug provided that any part of the plant grown has a delta-9 THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry matter basis. Production systems differences are greatly based on hemp’s end use.  Industrial hemp grown for field grain, oil or fiber production more closely matches existing grain and forage cropping systems, than that of hemp grown for floral production. Production and market opportunities may grow in the future as processing infrastructure and consumer demand for hemp products expand. Producers are urged to be cautious in pursing hemp as a new crop and to investigate markets and demand before investing in production.

A publication, "New Jersey Commercial Hemp Field Production Guide," was written to assist agricultural service providers and producers to understand the requirements, production methods, harvest techniques, and handling of hemp. Producer surveys combined with advisory committee input were the primary vehicles for developing the production guide.  Experiences with hemp pests and cultural systems through Rutgers research trials and local growers' fields in the 2020 and 2021 growing seasons helped to provide photos and key information included in this publication. Information from other land grant university resources in Vermont, Maine, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New York is also included. These states previously had state permit programs for hemp production, and were able to conduct science-based, non-biased research at their institutions based on state pilot-program status for hemp. The guide is focused on New Jersey regulations and production methods for field cultivated hemp. Information included in the guide may be pertinent to other states and producers in other regions. The publication was completed in December of 2021 and is now available online. 

Recommendations for hemp are mainly organic-based and utilize cultural practices for preventative measures for pest control due to the lack of US EPA registered pesticides for hemp. Synthetic pesticide labels are slowly becoming available for use on hemp. Viable and sustainable production methods for hemp are represented in the production guide.  

In NJ, as of May 2020, 54 producers obtained hemp permits with the NJ Department of Agriculture. These producers attended informational and educational programs offered by the Rutgers project team prior to publishing the production guide. Upon completion of the guide, the link for download was emailed to producers and agricultural service providers in NJ. The primary target audience for this project was NJ agricultural service providers.

This initial, one-year project was designed to investigate hemp production resources to build capacity for training and creating an educational program in the future consisting of The NJ Hemp Field Production Recommendations Guide, supportive presentations and educational materials for Agricultural Service Providers ASP and farmers. However, plans for the next three-year SARE project have been changed to conduct professional development on a different subject. This decision was made based on the change in trajectory of the hemp industry in New Jersey. Through individual conversations with agricultural service providers and farmers, the team realized the market for hemp in New Jersey has not reached a level that would make hemp production sustainable. In addition, of the 54 producers with hemp permits from the NJDA, only 25 actually produced a crop in 2021. Reports of excess fiber hemp that was unable to be sold, due to surplus production nationwide, and lack of local processing facilities and poor demand, caused many farmers to not plant hemp in future seasons. In addition, hemp crops grown for other uses were also in low demand, perhaps due to the pandemic or also surplus production from other regions. 

Performance Target:

This initial, one-year project is designed to investigate hemp production resources to build capacity for training and creating an educational program in the future consisting of The NJ Hemp Field Production Recommendations Guide, supportive presentations and educational materials for Agricultural Service Providers ASP and farmers. The initial project will rely heavily on an advisory group, producer surveys and research of educational materials and studies being conducted by other institutions in the northeast to facilitate the development of a draft NJ Hemp Field Production Recommendations Guide and additional resources during the next 3-year project.

Introduction:

The Farms Bills of 2014 (Agricultural Act of 2014, P.L. 113-79) and 2018 (Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, P.L. 115-334) have made possible the re-introduction of hemp as an industrial agricultural crop, albeit still subjected to regulatory oversight, requiring licensing and supervision by state departments of agriculture, with systematic reporting to USDA and DEA. The NJ Department of Agriculture (NJDA) had its Hemp Program approved by USDA on December 27, 2019, effectively allowing NJDA to license growers and processors to start hemp production and processing activities beginning with the 2020 season. Although industrial hemp production may be a viable option for New Jersey production, there have been very few U.S.-based agronomic research studies on industrial hemp since the early 20th century. Information from previous research is important and useful, but may not always be completely applicable for modern production systems. Industrial hemp is an untested crop in New Jersey and agricultural producers rely on Rutgers Cooperative Extension to provide these recommendations and to conduct the needed research to develop the industry. Therefore, a team of Agricultural Agents in NJ developed the "New Jersey Commercial Hemp Field Production Guide" for the industry. 

Advisors/Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info
  • Clay Allison - Producer
  • William Bamka
  • Daniel Farnsworth
  • Wayne Prindle - Technical Advisor

Educational Approach

Educational approach:

A publication, "New Jersey Commercial Hemp Field Production Guide," was written to assist agricultural service providers and producers to understand the requirements, production methods, harvest techniques, and handling of hemp. In NJ, as of May 2020, 54 producers obtained hemp permits with the NJ Department of Agriculture. These producers attended informational and educational programs offered by the Rutgers project team prior to publishing the production guide. Upon completion of the guide, the link for download was emailed to producers and agricultural service providers in NJ. 

Milestones

Milestone #1 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

Milestone #1
Introduce the project for the production guide and training formally to ASPs and farmers and promote current hemp resources already available (website: http://sare.rutgers.edu/hemp.html, Fact Sheets https://njaes.rutgers.edu/fs1302/ and https://njaes.rutgers.edu/fs1312/), 4 recorded presentations at the NJ Farm Bureau Convention (November 2020), and at the NJ State Agricultural Convention (February 2021). Two agricultural service providers were recruited members for the advisory committee for this project.

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:

50

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:

2

Actual number of farmer beneficiaries who participated:

55

Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:

5

Proposed Completion Date:

February 28, 2021

Status:

Completed

Date Completed:

February 28, 2021

Accomplishments:

The COVID-19 pandemic prohibited the ability to have in person meetings and conferences. Since the plan was to present this information at the 2020 NJ Farm Bureau convention and 2021 NJ Agricultural Convention, this did not occur as planned. Both conferences were limited to 1 day without presentations. However, hemp production information and notifying agricultural service providers and farmers about the in-progress New Jersey Commercial Hemp Production Recommendations, was completed via webinars through a Rutgers University faculty, staff and students training (dates: 2/4/21  and 10/13/20), the 2021 NOFANJ Hemp Conference (1/15/21), and 2 sessions at the 2021 NJ Vegetable Growers Meeting (2/23/21). Agricultural service providers recruited include two plant pathologists, a plant diagnostician, an extension staff member, and a NJ Department of Agriculture regulatory staff member. 

Milestone #2 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

Milestone #2
October 2020 to September 2021 – Investigate and compile resources available from Vermont, Maine, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York and other states pertaining to hemp production to create an outline and content for the development of “The NJ Hemp Field Production Recommendations Guide.”

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:

2

Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:

2

Proposed Completion Date:

September 30, 2021

Status:

Completed

Date Completed:

September 30, 2021

Accomplishments:

The team writing the guide met monthly for updates and to discuss progress. Research, content, and a draft production guide was completed and edits commenced.  Each team member was tasked with gathering resources from across the country related to hemp production to develop citations related to each subject area chapter for hemp production. 

Milestone #3 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

Milestone #3
November 2020 to September 2021 – consult with ASPs and farmers on future production plans, infrastructure and conduct a needs assessment for hemp production in New Jersey and develop plans for years 2-4 of project for continued updates to the production recommendations guide, demonstration trials, education and outcome reporting.

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:

25

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:

2

Actual number of farmer beneficiaries who participated:

25

Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:

2

Proposed Completion Date:

September 30, 2021

Status:

Completed

Date Completed:

September 30, 2021

Accomplishments:

Plans for the next round of SARE funding for a 3-year term have been changed to conduct professional development on a different subject. This decision was made based on the change in trajectory of the hemp industry in New Jersey. Through individual conversations with agricultural service providers and farmers, the team realized the market for hemp in New Jersey has not reached a level that would make hemp production sustainable. In addition, of the 54 producers with hemp permits from the NJDA, only 25 actually produced a crop in 2021. Reports of excess fiber hemp that was unable to be sold, due to surplus production nationwide, and lack of local processing facilities and poor demand, caused many farmers to not plant hemp in future seasons. In addition, hemp crops grown for other uses were also in low demand, perhaps due to the pandemic or also surplus production from other regions. 

Milestone #4 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

Milestone #4
September 2021 - A report of progress, including the draft for the hemp production recommendations guide and any completed sections of the guide will be submitted at the end of year 1.

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:

3

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:

2

Actual number of farmer beneficiaries who participated:

3

Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:

2

Proposed Completion Date:

September 30, 2021

Status:

Completed

Date Completed:

November 30, 2021

Accomplishments:

Since plans changed to not continue research or outreach on field production of hemp utilizing SARE funding, this project worked to complete a final version of the publication, "New Jersey Commercial Hemp Field Production Guide." Initially, a draft and the sections completed to date were to be the product of a one-year project. However, a final draft was instead concluded. Therefore, the project went beyond original expectations to complete the final publication. 

Milestone Activities and Participation Summary

Educational activities conducted by the project team:

ActivityYear 1Year 2Year 3Total
Curricula, factsheets or educational tools 1 1

Beneficiaries who participated in the project’s educational activities and events:

AudienceYear 1Year 2Year 3Total Individuals
Service providers (other or unspecified) 5 0 0 0
Farmers / ranchers 54 0 0 0

Participation Summary:

5 Number of agricultural educator or service providers reached through education and outreach activities

Learning Outcomes

2 Agricultural service providers reported changes in knowledge, skills and/or attitudes as a result of their participation.
2 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::

The "New Jersey Commercial Hemp Field Production Guide" was just completed at the end of this 1-year project. We have not yet been able to verify changes.

Performance Target Outcomes

Performance Target Outcomes - Service Providers

Target #1

Target: Number of service providers who will take action to educate/advise farmers:
2
Target: The educational action(s) they will take:

Hemp advisory committee established. This committee will advise the team on various aspects of the 3-year project implementation including:1) research needs, 2) educational resource needs and topics, 3) crop production needs and, 4) outline of the production guide. This committee will be established immediately and will include at least; 3 farmers, 1 service provider, and 1 regulatory agency representative. To strengthen the needs assessment activities of the advisory committee, at least 25 hemp producers will be surveyed to determine their needs related to production, marketing, and regulatory compliance.

Target: The number of farmers who will be educated/advised by the service providers:
48
Target: Total size/scale of the farms these farmers manage (e.g. total acres or animal units managed, gross sales or production volume, etc.):

N/A

The educational action(s) taken:

This committee consisted of 1 farmer, 1 service provider, and 1 regulatory agency representative. To strengthen the needs assessment activities of the advisory committee, 11 hemp producers were surveyed to determine needs related to production, marketing, and regulatory compliance.

Target #2

Target: Number of service providers who will take action to educate/advise farmers:
2
Target: The educational action(s) they will take:

The team will compile all relevant resources from various sources including Rutgers research results from 2020, other university resources, commodity group reports from the Hemp Industry Association (HIA) and others. The team anticipates collaborating with the NJ chapter of the HIA and at least 4 northeastern university (Maine, Delaware, Maryland, Vermont, New York) partners to obtain resources to avoid duplication of efforts.

Target: The number of farmers who will be educated/advised by the service providers:
48
Target: Total size/scale of the farms these farmers manage (e.g. total acres or animal units managed, gross sales or production volume, etc.):

56

The educational action(s) taken:

The team compiled all relevant resources from various sources including Rutgers research results from 2020 and 2021, other university resources, commodity group reports from the Hemp Industry Association (HIA) and others. The team collaborated with the NJ chapter of the HIA and 4 northeastern university partners (Maine, Delaware, Maryland, and Vermont) to obtain resources.

Target #3

Target: Number of service providers who will take action to educate/advise farmers:
2
Target: The educational action(s) they will take:

Development of a draft for the NJ Hemp Production Guide. The draft will be developed based on the recommendations of the Advisory Committee, needs assessment activities conducted during performance target #2 and communication with producers. ASPs will use the production guide to advise farmers.

Target: The number of farmers who will be educated/advised by the service providers:
48
Target: Total size/scale of the farms these farmers manage (e.g. total acres or animal units managed, gross sales or production volume, etc.):

56

The educational action(s) taken:

Agricultural service providers will use the production guide to advise farmers on field hemp production.

Target #4

Target: Number of service providers who will take action to educate/advise farmers:
2
Target: The educational action(s) they will take:

Development plan for educational resources and presentations to be delivered to ASPs and farmers during the 3-year project.

Target: The number of farmers who will be educated/advised by the service providers:
Target: Total size/scale of the farms these farmers manage (e.g. total acres or animal units managed, gross sales or production volume, etc.):
The educational action(s) taken:
2 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
48 Farmers reached through participant's programs
Total amount of production these farmers manage:
56
Performance target outcome for service providers narrative:

This one-year project was not outcome-based. The primary goal of the project was to develop a resource titled, "New Jersey Commercial Hemp Field Production Guide" for future use by agricultural service providers and producers. At conclusion of the project, 2 agricultural service providers indicated they will use the guide for consultation with 48 producers. Although more agricultural service providers were educated about the project and publication, this crop is new to producers and new to consultants. Time will tell if this crop will be a viable option for producers in New Jersey. 

Additional Project Outcomes

Assessment of Project Approach and Areas of Further Study:

Agricultural service providers and farmers realized the market for hemp in New Jersey has not reached a level that would make hemp production sustainable. Reports of excess fiber hemp that was unable to be sold due to surplus production and lack of local processing facilities and demand caused many farmers to not plant hemp in the future. In addition, hemp crops grown for other uses were also in low demand, perhaps due to the pandemic or also surplus production from other regions. 

SARE Outreach

Outreach about SARE:

SARE outreach in 2021 was difficult to do in-person due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. Two major statewide conferences where SARE outreach is conducted annually in New Jersey were hosted virtually. Email and phone correspondence interactions with clientele were done with 12 agricultural service providers to assist with information about SARE educational resources. In addition, 13 inquires from agricultural service providers were answered with regards to SARE grant programs. Eight email blasts were sent out to agricultural service providers, graduate students and farmers about grant deadlines. In addition, the Rutgers Plant and Pest Advisory online newsletter advertised SARE Farmer Grant information and deadlines. One webinar was conducted in January 2021 for faculty, staff and graduate students to learn about SARE grant opportunities. Twenty Rutgers Cooperative Extension county offices were mailed hard copies of information to distribute in their offices related to SARE grants and SARE outreach. 

Recieved information about SARE grant programs and information resouces:

Audience Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Total
Service providers 25 0 0 25
Farmers 700 0 0 700

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.