The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (the “Department”) recently announced a grant program to promote the Commonwealth’s “nascent” hemp industry. More than $250,000 in total funding is potentially available.
The purpose of the Pennsylvania Agricultural Hemp Promotion, Education and Export Promotion Matching Grant Program (the “Program”) – i.e., the grant – is “to provide matching funds to nonprofit agricultural product promotion and marketing organizations to reimburse up to 50% of the cost of projects intended to:
- Increase consumer awareness of agricultural hemp products within this Commonwealth and thereby increase sales of these agricultural hemp products.
- Educate producers and consumers with respect to agricultural hemp products within this Commonwealth.
- Otherwise facilitate the growth and development of export markets for agricultural hemp products within this Commonwealth.
The Department intends “to make up to $253,000 available for grants under the Program.”
“Pennsylvania nonprofit agricultural product promotion and marketing organization[s]” are eligible to apply for the Program. According to the Commonwealth, a “Pennsylvania nonprofit agricultural product promotion and marketing organization” is defined to mean, in relevant part: “A nonprofit business organization having its principal business offices within this Commonwealth, or having 50% or more of its membership within this Commonwealth, or having 50% or more of the agricultural products which it promotes or markets produced within this Commonwealth, and having as its members groups, individuals or organizations that serve to distribute a Commonwealth produced agricultural product in commerce.”
Further, “[a]ny agricultural or industrial hemp product that is legal to sell in this Commonwealth which has a major component/ingredient derived from the hemp plaint” is an “[e]ligble hemp product.” While the relevant notice announcing the grant does not define “hemp,” the federal Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 – otherwise, known as the “2018 Farm Bill” defines “hemp” to mean “the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”
Applications for the Program, which are available solely online, must “be submitted by 4:59 p.m. on Friday, March 5, 2021” (emphasis added). Additional documentation in support of an application also may be required by the Department. Applicants will be notified whether they have been selected for this grant via email by March 26, 2021.
The Department “may consider [certain] factors, among others, in deciding whether to approve or reject the grant request,” including, but not necessarily limited to, the following:
- The relevance of the project to the promotion or marketing of agricultural products within this Commonwealth.
- The innovativeness of the project described in the application.
- The scope of the project and the number of people who will be exposed to or affected by the project described in the application.
- The impact which the project will have upon the promotion and sales of the agricultural hemp products within this Commonwealth to which the project is targeted.
- The availability of full funding for the project from the applicant or from any source other than the Grant Program.
- The apparent ability of the applicant to complete the project as described in the application or, in the case of a grant to fund a National or regional agricultural product promotion or marketing project, the apparent ability of the entity with primary responsibility for the project to complete it.
- The overall performance of the project if the project had received funding through any other grant program administered by the Department in a previous fiscal year.
- Projects that are joint efforts between two or more Pennsylvania nonprofit agricultural product promotion and marketing organizations may be given preference over projects involving only one organization.
- Projects where reference to the Department as a source of funding can practicably be made in promotional materials or broadcasts, and that would make such a reference, may be given preference over projects that would not make such a reference.
- Whether the project has been assigned priority for funding in [Fiscal Year] 2019-2020 …..
To be eligible for the grant, the “subject project” must have started on or after July 1, 2020 and be completed by June 30, 2021. The grants will cover up to half of the project’s cost, with a minimum matching grant amount of $1,000. According to the Commonwealth, “[a] matching grant is a reimbursement, meaning no payment of grant funds will be made by the Department until the subject project is completed ….” Grant money may only be used for certain allowable uses and may not be used for certain “[p]rohibited expenditures.”
Questions about the Program, or about the hemp industry generally, may be directed to Leech Tishman’s Cannabis practice group, which can help with grant applications and actively monitors business and political developments impacting the hemp industry in Pennsylvania and across the United States.
Additionally, according to the Commonwealth: “Questions on this Program, including the online application process, may be directed to Morgan Sheffield, Bureau of Market Development, Department of Agriculture, 2301 North Cameron Street, Room 310, Harrisburg, PA 17110-9408, (717) 787-3568.”
Mike is a Partner at Leech Tishman and Chair of Leech Tishman’s Insurance Coverage Group. He is also a member of the firm’s Litigation Practice Group and Co-Chair of Leech Tishman’s Cannabis Group. Michael is based in the Pittsburgh office and can be reached at 412.261.1600 or email@example.com.
Dan is an Associate with Leech Tishman and a member of the Litigation and Bankruptcy & Creditors’ Rights Practice Groups. Dan is based in Leech Tishman’s Pittsburgh office and can be reached at 412.261.160 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leech Tishman’s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/leechtishman
Leech Tishman’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/LeechTishman
Leech Tishman’s Company Page on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/leech-tishman
Leech Tishman Fuscaldo & Lampl is a full-service law firm dedicated to assisting individuals, businesses, and institutions. Leech Tishman offers legal services in alternative dispute resolution, aviation & aerospace, bankruptcy & creditors’ rights, construction, corporate, employee benefits, employment, energy, environmental, estates & trusts, family law, government relations, immigration, insurance coverage & corporate risk mitigation, intellectual property, international legal matters, litigation, real estate, and taxation. Headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA, Leech Tishman also has offices in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Sarasota and Wilmington, DE.