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Empire Farm Days

Extra Special and Saturday Night Special, two Murray Grey cattle, were on display Wednesday at the annual Empire Farm Days exposition show in Seneca Falls.

SENECA FALLS — Rain may have flushed out many, but the Empire Farm Days exposition still hosted hundreds Wednesday to take part in demonstrations, panels, seminars, exhibits and more ways to learn about agricultural topics, including everything from cattle handling to industrial hemp production.

Held in Seneca Falls since 1988 and organized by Empire State Potato Growers, the trade show, which started Tuesday and continues through Thursday, provides visitors a chance to learn about and connect with the latest innovations and resources in agriculture.

One of the show's new features debuting this year is the Hemp Center, which hosted a number of speakers and experts discussing numerous facets of hemp growing including production for CBD oil, the state's industrial research program, and legislative efforts to support the budding industry.

Hemp is classified as a strain of the cannabis plant with a concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol, the active chemical in marijuana, below 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.

The center kicked off Tuesday with a presentation from Dr. Larry Smart, who leads Cornell University's hemp research and extension team, on the results of several years of trials to evaluate hemp cultivars, followed by an in-field demonstration crop tour.

Wednesday saw Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, who introduced the 2014 bill that allowed for hemp to be grown for the first time in decades, speak on the state's work to support the growing hemp industry in New York.

Part of that support comes in the form of the state Department of Agriculture and Markets' industrial hemp research program.

Launched in 2015 to cultivate the industrial hemp market, according to the state's web page for the program, the state began registering farmers and businesses as authorized growers.

While the U.S. Department of Agriculture is working to develop a new national hemp licensing system after it was removed from the federal government's list of controlled substances, for now, the state's industrial program is the only legal way to grow hemp in New York.

Other new events at the farm days this year included demonstrations of new technology like drone-based aerial crop spraying, manure spreaders and injectors, and irrigation systems; or presentations on how to manage pests and invasive species that threaten crops.

The show is scheduled to continue on Thursday, with gates opening at 9 a.m. and closing at 4 p.m. For more information, visit EmpireFarmDays.com.

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Staff writer Ryan Franklin can be reached at (315) 282-2252 or ryan.franklin@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @RyanNYFranklin

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