Tobacco money tapped to fuel new hemp testing facility in Virginia

Virginia will spend nearly $400,000 to develop a testing facility for agricultural products – including hemp – with funds coming from a state agency set up to revitalize tobacco-growing areas in the state.

The Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission awarded the money to buy a high-end Waters UPLC mass spectrometer for the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, a state business incubator in Danville, the Martinsville Bulletin reported.

The overall facility, which will test safety and marketability of new crops for the region, will cost about $1.07 million, institute spokeswoman Allison Moore said.

In addition to hemp, the lab will test organic vegetables, wine, hops and barley for farmers in the southern Virginia region.

Scott Lowman, director of applied research at the institute, said the certified lab would “fulfill requirements by growers and industry for production of food crops and the emerging hemp industry.”

Certification of the testing lab is expected by September. The facility will test for pesticides, heavy metals and other contaminants.