July 12, 2017
Albany, NY

Video, Audio & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Signs Legislation and Announces New Initiatives to Support Growth of Industrial Hemp Industry in New York State

TOP Video, Audio & Rush Transcript: Governor...

Announces Up to $10 Million in Grant Funding to Advance Research and Provide Resources to Future Processing Businesses

Legislation Clarifies Status of Industrial Hemp as An Agricultural Commodity in the State

Establishes Working Group to Guide Research, Support Industry Development and Advise Policy and Program Changes

Launches One-Stop Shop, Hotline and Webpage to Help Producers and Processors Navigate Industry Regulations and Requirements


Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation and announced new actions to support the emerging industrial hemp industry and boost the agricultural economy in New York State. This legislation solidifies the status of industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity under New York Agriculture and Markets Law and creates an industrial hemp working group to advise the State on research and policies concerning the crop. It also creates a one-stop shop to help producers and processors better understand state and federal regulations and requirements. In addition, the Governor announced up to $10 million in grant funding will be available through two initiatives to advance industrial hemp research and economic development opportunities for industrial hemp businesses. For more information, click here.

VIDEO of the remarks is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h264 format) here.

AUDIO of the remarks is available here.

PHOTOS of the event will be available on the Governor's Flickr page.

A rush transcript of the Governor’s remarks is available below.

Thank you. Thank you very, very much. It’s my pleasure to be here today. A lot of tough acts to follow, coming to the mic. First, it is just my pleasure to be back at Cornell. Cornell is such a gem for the entire state and it does so much good work on so many different levels. And it’s a pleasure to be with your new president, President Pollack, who’s really been a great, great acquisition for Cornell and we’re all excited about her leadership and we thank her for her hospitality today. Let’s give her a round of applause. To Senator O’Mara, pleasure to be with the senator who is a great advocate for his district and Southern Tier and the Finger Lakes, where we have a lot of good things going on many of which started with the good work of the senator. So it’s a pleasure to be with Senator O’Mara. Assembly member Donna Lupardo, who I think Commissioner Ball is right. She blew the bugle on the positive opportunities for hemp long before anyone else saw it. It was her vision, she was right. And it’s a pleasure to be with her, and Barbara Lifton, also an assembly member who understood the potential here. My two commissioners, Howard Zemsky, Empire State Development, we’re number 16, but we try harder. And the commissioner of the air commissioner Ball, who sets the bar high and I’m waiting to see apparently it’s an interesting pose of the commissioner and me in commissioners cordially. So I’m looking forward to seeing that. And I thank them for their good work.

Let me say this. Because it’s all bnen said let me just put it in context. We work on a lot of things at the state level. We have a lot of issues out there now from Opioid abuse to education challenges. The world is unsettled and a society is challenged. But the one constant that we focus on is economic development. Why? Because if the economy is running, many problems take care of themselves and you have the resources to take care those that don’t care of themselves. If the economy isn’t working, if you’re not creating jobs, the exact opposite is the case. So, the economy is the engine that pulls the train. And for many years, New York State forgot that. For many years, frankly, what we did in the state, culturally and by practice, actually was against business development and against economic development. A lot of what we did chased businesses and people from the state, especially upstate New York. You know we had what I call a Hangover New York Arrogance. Right? We’re New York. Businesses have to stay here. People have to stay here. Where else would you go? Well there are actually other states that you can go too. You know? And we had 20-30 years where all we did was raise taxes and raise business regulations and we were tone deaf to the needs of business. And we saw them leave. And we saw the young people leave with them. We were especially tone deaf as a state government to upstate New York. Why? Because as the senator will tell you and the assembly members will tell you, most of the members of the New York state legislature are from downstate New York. Why? Because that’s where the population is. So they come from New York City, they come from Long Island, you know what they are interested in doing? Helping New York City and Long Island. And upstate New York got the short end of the stick, which was doubly wrong because upstate New York actually needed the help more than downstate New York.

The New York City economy has basically been good for the past 25 years. A little ups and downs, but it was the upstate economy that was hemorrhaging through a fundamental economic transition that saw manufacturing jobs leave. And the state just wasn’t there to respond to upstate New York. So we did a 180 in the state government side. How do you reduce taxes? You reduce spending. We reduced spending to the lowest level since they’ve been keeping numbers. Just think about this: our year to year spending has gone up 2 percent. That is the lowest increase since they’ve been keeping numbers for the state. And it’s only gone up 2 percent for the past six budget cycles. Every other administration, as far back as you can go, raised spending higher. Because we kept spending low, we could cut taxes. Every New Yorker today pays a lower tax rate than they did six years ago. Every New Yorker, on any bracket. Middle class, up to $300,000 – lowest tax rate since 1947. Manufacturing tax – lowest since 1917. Corporate tax – lowest since 1968. That’s without adjusting for inflation, without adjusting for anything, just absolute rates. So we got it, and we focused on upstate New York like a laser. And I’m proud to be the governor who headed the administration that’s done more for upstate New York than any administration in the history of the state of New York.

But when you are talking about economic development and job creation, this is an extraordinarily competitive world that we live in. Every state is literally competing with every other state. You have countries that will call existing businesses in New York and ask them if they’re interested in relocated. You have states that call all day long and try to put together packages to lure businesses to other states. So it is extraordinarily competitive. And we go sector by sector in the economy and literally try to be the most competitive in every sector. So in the high-tech sector, where we’re doing a lot of investment and a lot of work. Advanced manufacturing sector. The academic sector. Literally sector by sector. One of the traditional engines of our economy has been agriculture. People forget how strong an economic engine agriculture is – 23 percent of our land in this state is for agriculture. $5.4 billion industry. 36,000 farms in the state of New York. Big engine in the Southern Tier – about 6,000 farms in the Southern Tier. So we’ve spent a lot of time working on agriculture. And the reason why Commissioner Ball is number one is because he has done great things for the agriculture community. We spent over $200 million in protected farmland. We started to really step into the organic and homegrown farm-to-table space, which I believe is going to be a space that grows in the future. With the only state that certifies organically grown and safely grown with what we call the New York Grown and Certified Program. We had the Taste New York program, where we sample for the rest of the world, and market, our New York grown products.  So, we’ve spent a lot of time building the agricultural sector.

We've relaxed a lot of DEC environmental regulations to make it easier to expand farms, especially dairy farms. And we’ve gotten creative since half of the agricultural market is dairy farms. That’s why we went into the Greek yogurt business. Not just because we love Greek yogurt, which we all do now, but, Greek yogurt actually uses 8 times more milk to make than regular yogurt.  And New York State now makes more Greek yogurt than Greece. Why? Because it’s a way to spur our dairy industry.  And have industries that buy our own milk, right? So our own self-contained economic cycle.  We have the dairy farms, and we have the processors for the milk through yogurt, etcetera.  We’ve just brought a big plant from the Hood company that is one of the nation’s largest users of dairy.  So, we’ve been focusing on this industry in general.

Now, from an economic development point of view, the grand slam is always the initiation of what they call a “cluster economy.” What is a cluster economy? A cluster economy is a newly developing product that a state can actually seize the growth and become the home of the growth of that product, right? The Silicon Valley of that product where you have incentivized that development, that industry, and you become the home to that industry.  And they call it a cluster economy because once you start to build it, then you become the magnet for that industry.  
So, in Syracuse, we’re trying to build a cluster economy around drones, and state of the art drones, and sensors for drones and drone testing.  The Capital District, Albany, has done phenomenally well becoming the cluster economy for nanotechnology – making smaller and smaller circuits, because the industry has constantly been calling for smaller and smaller circuit boards. Rochester is working to become the home of photonics, right? Which fits in many ways as the next generation of light engineering and reproduction. North Country, 3-D printing, literally, is being pioneered in the North Country.

So, that is really, the cherry on the cake for economic development, where you start an industry and you then become the home to that industry and it generates itself.  As soon as Howard gets that done, he’s going to move up in the rankings. And he thinks he has a shot to do it here. The hemp industry was artificially aborted in this country.  It was artificially aborted. That’s why the history lesson was so important. We know the value of the product. 1970s, the anti-drug craze, literally the legislation swept up hemp in the anti-drug legislation. And it had no business being included in the first place. But, federal legislation basically prohibited hemp from being cultivated.

Now, we still needed hemp, so we imported it. That’s why in so many ways this is a no brainer. How do you know there’s going to be a market for the market? There already is a market for the product, right? We import it from Canada. We import it from China. It’s roughly a billion dollar industry and we know that. But because we have these federal laws, we can’t grow here and we must import it. 2014 the federal government says, "We're going to start to relax the rules and we’re going to make seeds available for cultivation in connection with research." Okay, which is the first time you now have an opportunity to get into this market. Kentucky starts, a few other states start, But it is incredibly bureaucratic difficult because you have to deal with the federal government – with all due respect. You have to deal with the DEA – with all due respect. And it is incredibly difficult to get into the market and the business because of the federal regulations. For an individual it would be infuriating. But, as a state government, we can actually make it work better than most individuals could on their own and we have worked very, very hard with our federal colleagues. We have imported seed from basically everywhere. We have basically cornered the market of available seed and we want to be the nation’s leader in hemp productions.

Now, we even have the processors in New York already because they have been importing the product all along. So, we know the product sells. We know there’s a market. We know there’s an international market. We know we’re now importing it. We know that it was artificially and prematurely aborted. The only thing we have to do is grow it and get through the federal maze of regulations. Jump-start it. Make it happen here. Become the largest producer and then that industry – the processors, the secondary companies – because they use this for everything. Donna Lupardo gave me pasta made from hemp. Now, I’m going to try it because pasta is a religious artifact in my home. And I may know a lot of things, but I know good pasta. So, the uses are just all across the board and we can develop more. And I really believe this is going to be not just an agricultural boom if we do it right, but it will also be a manufacturing boom because the processors are all in the manufacturing sector.

And they were really looking for someone in this country to step up and take the lead. And that's we're doing because New York - you look at our history - New York never gets second. New York was the innovation capital. That’s what we were. We were entrepreneurs. We were risk takers. We were adventurous. And we did it first in New York. We created it first. And we’re getting back to that way and we’re getting back to that way especially in Upstate New York. That's what Photonics is all about and drones are all about. That's what Riverbend and Buffalo and clean energy and solar panels are all about. New York once again leading. And in agriculture, we think that hemp can be an agricultural leader and a manufacturing leader, and we're going to exercise the New York legacy and we’re going to lead the way. Let’s sign the bill and start today. Thank you.

Contact the Governor's Press Office
Contact the Governor's Press Office