On Tuesday, Oct. 27, State Senator Jen Metzger joined Town of Warwick Supervisor Mike Sweeton, farmer Mark Rogowski, Orange County IDA CEO Laurie Villasuso and hemp industry leaders to announce major new initiatives to advance Orange County’s hemp industry.
The event was held outside Kaycha Labs, a state-of-the-art hemp testing facility, now housed in a newly renovated 9,000-square-foot complex on the grounds of the former Mid-Orange Correctional Facility.
For the benefit of those not familiar with the Warwick Valley Office and Technology Corporate Park, Sweeton explained the history of its development on a site that had changed from the time it was a State School for Boys to a men’s correctional facility and, more recently, its closure and purchase by the Town.
CBD-infused beverages and food
Metzger, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee, then announced the release of draft hemp regulations from the New York State Department of Health as required by her legislation passed last year.
The draft regulations allow for CBD-infused beverages and food, and if finalized, would greatly expand opportunities for developing a wider range of CBD products in New York State.
At the press conference, Metzger also announced $250,000 in state funding to the Town of Warwick to purchase equipment for rent by local farmers diversifying into hemp production.
The equipment will be housed at the Orange County Industrial Development Agency Accelerator, which CEO Laurie Villasuso announced will occupy one of the historic buildings at the Warwick Tech Park to provide manufacturing and office space for CBD-related small businesses that participate in the IDA’s Accelerator program.
The 2018 Farm Bill removed cannabidiol, known as CBD, from the Controlled Substances Act, creating new opportunities for New York farmers and businesses.
New opportunities for farmers and business
At the press conference, Urban Extracts, Rogowski Farms and Hillview Med announced a new partnership in which locally grown and processed hemp extract will be sourced for a CBD-infused seltzer.
“During this challenging economic time,” said Metzger, “it is important that we capitalize on new opportunities for our farmers and businesses, and create the conditions for the hemp industry to grow and thrive, New York is well-positioned to be a leader in this promising new industry, and I look forward to continuing to work with our local partners to build on the successful public-private partnership that is well underway here in Warwick.”
Sweeton added: “Our hemp initiative had stalled since the regulations were under review which forced companies to put their plans for investment on hold. I reached out to Senator Metzger for help and she delivered by working to get New York State to issue these regulations. This will now jump start our effort to redevelop the former prison and create jobs here in Warwick.”
Roger Gavan contributed to this article.
“Thanks to the dedication and leadership of our Senator, Jen Metzger, the CBD regulations this industry needs to burst forward have now been released. These regulations–and all of the hard work that went into seeing them through–mean so much for our economic growth here in Orange County, at a time when we need it most.”
Laurie Villasuso, CEO of the Orange County IDA
“This latest legislation that Senator Metzger put a lot of time into is very encouraging. To be able to expand it into food and beverage gives us another avenue where we can move this product. A lot of us farmers in the Black Dirt region have a lot of faith that we’ll be able to pull this off. Hopefully it sparks things on a national level where you’ll see CBD demand explode like we thought it would back in 2018. Hopefully 2021 will be great and we can start growing a good quantity in New York.”
Mark Rogowski of Rogowski Farm
“Everything that we need to be successful is right here in our community, and it really starts with our farmers. What we’ve learned over the last three years is we know how to produce (hemp), we know how to extract it, we know how to productize it, but a business is only successful if you have customers and you can distribute, and this set of regulations is so important because it really now gives us the ability to scale and to distribute product.”
Eran Sherin, CEO of Urban Extracts