“We do grams, eighths, quarters, half ounces, pounds, wholesale pounds -- however you want it,” Jacob Stretch said, standing between crates of dried hemp in his living room that doubles as his hemp processing and drying facility. Stretch, owner of Chesapeake Blue, just finished his first season growing industrial hemp as a registered grower and processor on his family’s farm.
Industrial hemp is poised to be a fast growing sector of agriculture in Virginia. Hemp advocacy group Vote Hemp estimates 2017 retail sales of hemp products neared $820 million nationally and will continue to grow.
Hemp is a versatile material that can be used in foods and beverages, personal care products, nutritional supplements, fabrics and textiles, paper, construction materials and other manufactured goods, according to a report from the Congressional Research Service.
In an October press release, Gov. Ralph Northam announced Virginia’s first commercial industrial hemp fiber processing facility. Appalachian Biomass Processing, in Wytheville, will create 13 new jobs and purchase more than 6,000 tons of Virginia-grown industrial hemp over the next three years, at a value of more than $1 million, the governor stated.