An entrepreneur who has roots from Lancaster Country is planning to open a hemp processing facility in Red Lion that’s set to become Pennsylvania’s first and largest processing facility. Steve Groff, a farmer, and a licensed surgeon is planning to use highly innovative machinery for the processing of hemp plants to be used for chemicals and fiber. He believes that his processing facility will expand very rapidly.
Groff North America
To carry out his plans of putting up a hemp processing facility, Groff launched a new company that he named Groff North America, along with his wife Julie and son Taylor. They are investing more than $2 million in order to get the business operational. The startup is expected to open around August or September.
Groff’s business endeavor takes advantage of the opportunity that has resulted from the approval of the 2018 Federal Farm Bill, which President Trump signed in December. The law regulates industrial hemp, which legalizes the commercial production of hemp. Previously, only pilot programs on hemp were allowed.
The Farm Bill has reversed a decades-long ban simply because hemp is a close cousin of marijuana. However, hemp only contains a small trace of the THC, which is the high-inducing component responsible for getting users high.
Hemp Supply Chain
Goff’s plan to come up with a processing facility is a key step in Pennsylvania’s plan to establish a hemp supply chain in the state. Advocates of hemp have long argued that the biggest challenge they have to face after the hemp legalization is to attract key players to build a processing facility. Understandably the quickest states are most likely to get the biggest share in this thriving industry.
Pennsylvania is definitely in the mix and has become the second state to submit a plan to the USDA about their plans of regulating legalized hemp. There are currently three companies that are processing hemp in the state. The announcement of Groff is the second major announcement of the plans to build hemp processors in the Mid-Atlantic.
In January 2018, Canopy Growth, a company based in Ontario, announced its plans to build a facility that would cost around $100-$150 million.
In order to accomplish his project, Groff is planning to renovate a building he leased in Red Lion. The building has a space of 80,000-square-foot and was formerly used as a warehouse and factory. Goff will be the first company in the United States to use a machine called the HempTrain, where the entire plant will be fed in order to be processed.
The machine works by separating the two components of hemp that will be used as fiber. It will also separate a third microfiber that contains the CBD. Each plant that will be fed into the machine will be turned into these three products. Thus, they can be sold in bulk to companies that have a use for them. The conventional method of extracting the fiber is a century-old process known as decortication. This usually requires mechanical hammering that could potentially damage the hurd and the fiber.