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Hemp fiber summit to find farmer partners

Several elected officials from Butler County are on the RSVP list for a hemp summit next week in neighboring Lawrence County.

DON Services in New Castle is hosting a Western Pennsylvania hemp fiber summit Thursday. Hemp farming is among the company's businesses, and it's seeking farmer partners for a hemp processing facility in the works, according to a news release issued by the company.

Lori Daytner, DON's vice president of program development, confirmed Thursday that several elected officials representing sections of Butler County are attending.

State Sen. Elder Vogel, R-47th, and state Reps. Aaron Bernstine, R-10th, and Lee James, R-64th are scheduled to attend, Daytner said. Daytner also was given confirmation that staff members for U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-16th, and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., also plan to attend.

The keynote speaker for the event is Fred Strathmeyer Jr., deputy secretary for plant industry and consumer protection with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

Various hemp business people are slated to deliver speeches about the industry.

The proposed processing facility will be what's known as a “decortication” facility. Decortication is the process by which raw hemp is broken down into usable fibrous materials.

Pennsylvania began issuing permits for commercial hemp growth this year. Four Butler County farms were among the 300-plus statewide to receive permits to grow hemp for commercial purposes. Permitting for the 2020 growing season is expected to be detailed soon.

The New Castle event is free, but requires reservations that can be made by calling 724-856-4134.

The event will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. at 831 Harrison Street in New Castle.

What: Western Pennsylvania Hemp Fiber EventWhere: DON Services, 831 Harrison Street in New CastleWhen:2 to 5 p.m. ThursdayCost: FreeReservations: 724-856-4134