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Firm To Create Industrial Hemp Processing Infrastructure
November 7, 2019

Vitality Farms, LLC, operating as Appalachian Biomass Processing, has announced the firm will invest $894,000 to create the Commonwealth’s first commercial industrial hemp fiber processing facility to be located in Wythe County. According to the announcement, the firm plans to purchase more than 6,000 tons of Virginia-grown industrial hemp over the next three years, at a value of more than $1 million. To enable creation of the new processing facility, Governor Northam signed legislation in March that was unanimously passed by the General Assembly to legalize the commercial growing and processing of industrial hemp by conforming Virginia law to the 2018 Federal Farm Bill. This is the first economic development announcement for Virginia’s industrial hemp industry.

Appalachian Biomass Processing will use a specialized decorticator to process bales of hemp stalks into two raw agricultural products. The company will sell bast fiber to a North Carolina company for further processing and sale to the textile industry, while the woody core of the plant, or hurd, will be sold to a Virginia company for use as animal bedding.

“Our production model is an internally reproducible model and can expand to meet the demands of the region’s hemp supply chain,” said Susan Moore, founder and owner of Appalachian Biomass Processing. “Our team brings a wealth of knowledge, experience, and motivation to see this plan to fruition. By working with state and local economic development allies, we hope to help create an entirely new industry for the region.”

A native of Wythe County, Ms. Moore has cultivated substantial industry knowledge and relationships through experience conducting research in partnership with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) and the University of Virginia.

“I am committed to pursuing every path that will attract economic prosperity to our rural communities, and hemp production opens up a wealth of opportunity to bring new jobs and new business to Virginia,” remarked Governor Ralph S. Northam in response to the announcement. “We are focused on developing a thriving and sustainable hemp industry in our Commonwealth and by establishing Virginia’s first modern commercial hemp processor, Appalachian Biomass Processing will play a key role in helping to create a highly-anticipated market for our farmers and industrial hemp growers.”

The VDACS worked with Wythe County to secure this project for the Commonwealth. Governor Northam approved a $25,000 grant from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) fund for the project, which Wythe County will match with local funds.

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