Hemp could be new industry for Ohio farmers - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Hemp could be new industry for Ohio farmers

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COLUMBIANA, Ohio -

Agriculture Week in Ohio is putting the spotlight on the accomplishments of a fourth generation farmer from Columbiana.   

The ancestral home of Harvey Firestone still holds a special place in the history of Ohio agriculture.  

The Firestone Farm Tire Test Center is the only research facility of it's kind in the world. It's located on the farm where Harvey Firestone, the founder of Firestone Tire and Rubber, grew up. 

Firestone invented the pneumatic farm tire. 

Visiting the center on Tuesday was Dorothy Pelanda, the first female director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

"We sought out places in Ohio that are innovative and really represent the future of agriculture," said Pelanda

The test center runs driver-less tractors 24 hours a day and uses state of the art technology, including lasers, to measure the quality and endurance of farm tires.

The president of Firestone Agriculture, Tony Orlando, said every new tire that goes into production is first tested here.  "We study anywhere between 30 to 50 tires a year of new technology that is tested here in Columbiana, " Orlando said.

Agriculture is Ohio's number one industry. One in seven Ohio jobs are related to agriculture and it contributes more than $120 billion annually to the economy.

Palenda said growing hemp could be a new industry to supplement Ohio farmers.  "Farmers could supplement what they're currently doing now with the farm bill that  exempts hemp from the scheduled product so that farmers and the legislature can consider growing hemp as an industry for farmers."

The director said that it is just as important as Ohio's history in agriculture, is its future.  "We want to keep young people interested and focused and excited about agriculture."

One of her goals as director is a national focus on what is happening in agriculture in Ohio. 

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