In Ohio, Coal Miners Begin Stark Quest for New Careers

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Maria Gallucci for International Business Times:The miners are here (at a Destiny Truck Driving Academy’s training site) thanks largely to a federal initiative for former coal industry workers. The Obama administration, aiming to boost communities battered by coal’s downturn, recently awarded around $14.5 million in grants to a dozen states as part of its Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce Economic Revitalization (POWER) program. Ohio received $2 million, one of the biggest slices, to help dislocated coal workers pay for retraining and education programs in high-demand industries, including trucking. The funding is helping cover Hepburn and Connolly’s fees of roughly $1,500, a sum they say they couldn’t otherwise afford.Workforce initiatives like these are gaining traction as layoffs pile up across America’s coal country.Mines are shuttering or pressing pause for a mix of reasons. Prices of metallurgical coal, the type used in steelmaking, plunged 18 percent last year from 2014 due to softening economic growth in China and an overall global supply glut. Thermal coal for power plants is losing ground to natural gas, which emits fewer pollutants and less carbon dioxide than coal. With the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) tightening rules on climate change and clean air, utilities are increasingly converting their plants to gas and building more solar and wind power projects.All the while, U.S. coal companies are floundering financially, with half a dozen firms filing for bankruptcy protection last year. Many are swimming in debt, the result of expansions and acquisitions made in years when coal’s outlook seemed brighter. Coal production last year fell to about 900 million short tons, its lowest level in nearly three decades, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in January.Employment in the sector, meanwhile, is at a 20-year low. The average number of workers at U.S. coal mines fell 10.5 percent to nearly 80,400 employees from 2012 to 2013, a drop of nearly 9,500 workers, according to the EIA’s latest data.Few energy analysts see the U.S. coal sector resurging to its glory days.Full article: Ohio’s Miners Seek A Life After Coal As Industry Loses Steam in Appalachia In Ohio, Coal Miners Begin Stark Quest for New Careerslast_img read more

Oklaunion joins long list of Texas coal plants to fail economic test

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Texas Observer:Chalk this one up as another loss for the White House.Last month, American Electric Power (AEP) announced that it would close its 650-megawatt power plant in Vernon, a rural community of 11,000 just south of the Texas-Oklahoma line, by September 2020. The closure of the Oklaunion Power Station is the latest in a string of shuttered coal-fired power plants across the state: Since 2011, at least six have been mothballed, scheduled for retirement or closed altogether, casualties of cheap natural gas and a booming renewables sector.While it’s not shocking that another Texas coal plant has succumbed to market headwinds, it is somewhat surprising that Oklaunion was the latest casualty. At only 31 years old, it’s more than two decades away from the typical retirement age of 54. The plant was also running relatively efficiently until 2013, according to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. Plant efficiency has dropped in the years since, however, sapping profits and forcing AEP to pull the plug. The impending closure maps a tough road ahead for Texas’ aging fleet of coal plants, some of which also face the prospect of installing expensive new pollution controls to comply with Obama-era environmental regulations (Oklaunion itself is among the state’s top 10 emitters of nitrogen oxide, according to the Sierra Club).Not only are coal plants prone to spewing greenhouse gases and smog-producing chemical compounds, many facilities nationwide have grown inefficient and costly to operate as they’ve aged. Electric utilities are looking for cheaper, more efficient power sources such as natural gas and wind. For the state’s power generators, the writing is on the wall: There’s little room for coal in Texas’ future.Oklaunion’s shutdown bookends a series of coal-fired power plant closures in Texas. The trend began in 2011 when CPS Energy, San Antonio’s municipal electric utility, chose to mothball its 871-megawatt J.T. Deely Power Plant instead of retrofitting it with new pollution controls. In 2016, AEP retired its coal-burning units at the Welsh Power Plant for similar reasons. Then, in late 2017, Luminant announced that it would close three of its coal-fired plants in Texas: Monticello (Mt. Pleasant), Big Brown (Fairfield) and Sandow (Rockdale), representing a combined capacity of 4,600 megawatts (1 megawatt powers about 750 homes at once). The Three Oak coal mine supplying Sandow has also closed.More: Despite Trump and Rick Perry’s best efforts, another coal plant eats the dust in Texas Oklaunion joins long list of Texas coal plants to fail economic testlast_img read more

Arizona utility to add 1,000MW of solar by 2025

first_imgArizona utility to add 1,000MW of solar by 2025 FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Arizona Republic:Salt River Project will massively increase the amount of solar energy the utility uses by 2025, saving the company money and reducing its reliance on natural gas, officials said Thursday. SRP officials said they plan to add 1,000 megawatts of solar to the system over seven years, a big increase from the 200 megawatts on SRP’s system today.CEO Mike Hummel told the board members the amount is the maximum amount of solar energy SRP can put into service without major impacts on the grid and the company’s coal-fired power plants. “It is an aggressive move on renewables,” Hummel said. “It is an aggressive move on scale. But it is one I believe we can make work.”SRP also has about 180 megawatts of solar on its system that customers have installed, and that figure is expected to grow to about 300 megawatts over the same time, Hummel said.SRP came up with the plan after setting out to explore the maximum amount of solar energy it could accommodate on the power grid, he said. During the hottest hours of the hottest days, power demand from SRP customers peaks at about 7,000 megawatts.The plan means SRP will get 16 percent of its energy supply from renewable sources in 2025, with 11 percent of that from solar alone. It will get another 11 percent of its supply from energy-efficiency measures that encourage customers to use less electricity.SRP officials didn’t offer a cost estimate since the utility won’t construct plants, but Courtright said based on market prices today SRP should save money because solar energy is cheaper than power from natural gas plants.More: Salt River Project plans massive increase in solar power uselast_img read more

Baywa building Europe’s largest floating solar project in the Netherlands

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bloomberg:German renewable energy developer Baywa r.e. has begun constructing what will be the largest floating solar farm outside of China.The 27-megawatt Bomhofsplas solar farm is set to include 73,000 solar panels on a sandpit lake in Zwolle in the Netherlands, the company said in a statement. For places like Northern Europe where land is in tight supply, floating technology could open up new areas for renewable energy development.Baywa has installed close to a third of the solar farm in two weeks, its fastest deployment time yet for such a project. The company said floating installations are easier to install than similar projects on land and could produce more power thanks to a cooling effect from the water.“Our ability to deliver floating solar farms in such a short space of time is an exciting new opportunity for Europe and its bid to be carbon free by 2050,” said Benedikt Ortmann, global director of solar projects at Baywa.China has led the way with floating solar farms so far, with the biggest projects in the world. But other countries could soon catch up. The project in Zwolle is Baywa’s fourth in less than two years and Thailand has ambitions to build utility-scale projects in the coming years.[Will Mathis]More: Europe’s largest floating solar farm underway in Netherlands Baywa building Europe’s largest floating solar project in the Netherlandslast_img read more

Keeping the Faith

first_imgMy cousin, Chris Butler, professional cyclist and clean athleteNo one can deny it has been a heavy week for the cycling community. Without going into too much detail 7-time winner of the Tour de France Lance Armstrong came out and admitted to doping. This basically negates his wins throughout his career because he cheated to achieve his results.As a passionate cyclist I can’t say this doesn’t hurt a little bit. I myself own Lance’s books about beating cancer and going on to win the greatest race in the world. Hell they have even inspired me when I first came into the sport. It was a picture perfect story about an underdog, and who doesn’t love a tale like that. The whole situation now is getting more media attention than say the wars in the middle east, starvation, child labor, and oh about a million other more noteworthy issues.A few of my non cyclist family members and friends have asked my opinion on the whole debacle, and to tell you the truth I have never been more proud to be a cyclist. Instead of focusing on Lance I think about all the wonderful people and events in the cycling community that inspire me on a daily basis.I look at the parents teaching their child to ride a bike, I think about the Northend Greeenway project in Harrisonburg that would make bike commuting safer and more accessible, I think about Ernest Gagnon who is using cycling as a means to become healthier and who is a true hero to us all, I think about the Long Brothers who just won the Sports Illustrated Kids SportsKids of the Year, just to name a few. Side note be sure to watch the video at the bottom of this post about the Long Brothers, they can teach us all quite a few important things, just be sure to have the tissues handy.When people say everyone dopes in professional cycling I fiercely defend the clean athletes I call friends and family. I am friends with Ben King, professional cyclist, and I have full belief he is clean. My cousin Chris Butler has raced with BMC and is now with Champion Systems, and I know he is clean. My friend Curtis Winsor just finished his first season as a pro cyclist and I know his own two legs have taken him this far. I could keep naming them off like Cheryl Sornson, Jeremiah Bishop, Nick Waite, Sue Haywood, Sam Koerber, and many more.Instead of focusing on the negative this week in cycling, think about all the good in cycling. I am asking everyone to keep the faith. Cycling has improved my life, made me a better person, and given me the best friends in the world. So when you throw a leg over your favorite two wheeled machine this weekend, be sure to smile because there is far more good in the cycling world then bad, and that’s something to be proud to be a part of.last_img read more

Louisville, Ky.

first_imgPopulation: 609,893Public lands: Jefferson Memorial Forest, Daniel Boone National Forest, Beargrass Creek Greenway at Irish Hill, Caperton Swamp, Kulmer Reserve, Waverly Park, Parklands of Floyds Park, Waterfront Park, Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, Red River GorgeActivities: Mountain and road biking, climbing the Red, spelunking, camping and paddling the Land Between the Lakeslast_img

Christian Lopez: Onward + Upward

first_imgSome of the songs on Christian Lopez’s recently released debut album, Onward, were written when he was only 14. Wise beyond his years, but still fresh-faced now at 20, the West Virginia-based tunesmith is quickly emerging as Americana’s next great artist behind an authentic sound that’s steeped in lyrical honesty.To make his new album, Lopez traveled to Nashville and worked with one of the hottest roots-revival producers in town, Dave Cobb, who helmed Jason Isbell’s Southeastern and Sturgill Simpson’s Metamodern Sounds in Country Music. Lopez isn’t as edgy as the two aforementioned songwriters, but he clearly has a dusty soul, channeling his Appalachian heart through a clear pop-minded voice.“The music is still changing,” Lopez says when asked about his sound. “I don’t try to confine it, but right now if it’s falling into that Americana world, I’m happy to be there.”Lopez grew up in Shepherdstown, inspired by the surroundings of West Virginia’s eastern panhandle, specifically the Potomac River. Musical influence first came from his dad’s record collection, which favored the classic rock of AC/DC and Pink Floyd, but as Lopez got older he started digging country icons Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash and then young revivalists like the Avett Brothers and Trampled by Turtles.Christian-Lopez-2015-Allen-Clark-Photography-7967-copy_FIXIn high school he got an acoustic guitar and started writing songs, eventually developing the courage to sing them at open-mic nights at local spots like the Blue Moon Café. Lopez tried to tangle with the industry machine, twice becoming a Hollywood finalist on American Idol, but he’s since realized he’s more suited more for the grassroots scene, gigging incessantly with his namesake band.He’s opened for Zac Brown Band and Dave Matthews Band, but as a headliner Lopez is still working his way through clubs and bars. He’s particularly looking forward to the chance to make new fans during the band’s three sets at FloydFest later this month.“We’re working towards a lot of goals, and that keeps us going,” Lopez says. “We’ve got a lot of hope, and gas in the tank. That’s all we need.”Lopez penned all the songs on Onward, except for a twangy version of the traditional “Oh Those Tombs,” which was made popular by Hank Williams. His originals move between introspective country on the “The Man I Was Before,” the weary front-porch ballad “Seven Years,” and the breezy modern rock of “Will I See You Again” and “Pick Me Up.”“They’re songs that I’ve had with me my whole life,” Lopez says. “They were written from the time I was 14 to the months before we went to record, so they’re personal to me. In the studio we tried to capture the first reaction from everybody’s first listen. That’s something Dave (Cobb) likes to do. The first or second take is your body, your mind, and your heart’s first reaction to the music. Whatever comes out is the way it should be.”This summer Lopez will be mostly living in his motorhome, touring with the band through August, playing shows as far west as California. Despite his new cred in Music City, he says whenever he gets a break, it’s always taken back home in West Virginia.“Everybody in Nashville asks me, ‘When are you going to move down here?’” Lopez says. “I won’t ever leave West Virginia. It’s a great place to call home—good people, good food, good music—everything you could ask for.”—West Virginia’s Christian Lopez Delivers a Tight Twangy DebutCol. Bruce Hampton & the Aquarium Rescue Unit is reuniting for a full tour.The short-lived underground favorite came out of Atlanta at the tail end of the ‘80s with an exploratory rock sound that blended jazz chops with an outer-limits attitude. With Hampton as the ringleader, the outfit featured a list of all-star players who have gone on to bigger success, including bassist Oteil Burbridge (Allman Brothers), guitarist Jimmy Herring (The Dead, Widespread Panic), and drummer Jeff Sipe (Leftover Salmon, Keller Williams).The band started with weekly gigs at Atlanta’s Five Points Pub and went on to play large amphitheaters with Phish, Widespread Panic, and Blues Traveler on the H.O.R.D.E. tour at the dawn of the second-generation jam band explosion. While many feel ARU was the best of the bunch, the group disbanded in the mid-’90s before reaching its full potential. While reunion shows have popped up over the years, the band is finally getting back together for a full tour, starting in Colorado at the end of this month and heading to its native South for a bunch of dates in early August.aquariumrescueunit.comlast_img read more

6 Ways to Leave No Trace when Hammock Camping

first_imgWith more people getting out and enjoying our wild places, there is increased impact on the places we travel. In order to be good stewards of our public lands, we need to take steps to reduce our impact, and take care of the places we play.Hammocks are prime examples of minimum impact shelters.  When used with appropriate, tree friendly suspension systems, hammocks don’t alter the natural environment. The smaller our footprint, the less likely we are to impact existing plant and wildlife.  Here are steps we can take to minimize our impact when hammock camping.screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-9-39-10-amUSE TREE FRIENDLY STRAPSStraps made out of nylon/polyester webbing with a minimum of 1″ in width will minimize the impact of hammocks on trees.  Hammock-specific suspension straps reduce girdling and damage to the bark and cambium layer, which can cause wood tissue death. Never hammer or screw anything into the trees or use anything made from a non-tree-friendly material, such as plastic zip cords. Think of the bark of a tree like a straw.  When a straw is cracked it is hard for liquid to travel through it.  If we damage the bark of a tree the tree has a hard time getting the nutrients it needs from the ground.screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-9-39-18-amPRESERVE THE RIPARIAN ZONESet up your hammock camp at least 200 feet away from any water source to protect riparian areas (the interface between land and water.) These areas provide unique plant habitats and communities, and are significant in soil stabilization.  Also, it is best to check with local land managers to ensure the area allows hammocking.screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-9-39-26-amPROTECT PLANT LIFEHammock camping is a great way to protect fragile plant species. When you find two perfect hammocking trees, make sure to thoroughly check the ground area for sensitive plant life, wildlife habitat, and potential hazards like yellow jacket nests or poisonous plants. Always check for exposed roots or lichen, and avoid stepping on them entirely.screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-9-39-39-amMINIMIZE IMPACTLook for an established, or already existing campsite to set up your hammock. As prescribed in the Leave No Trace Principles: “Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.” When you find an existing campsite, focus activities in areas that are already void of vegetation, and avoid increasing the area of impact on the site. screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-9-39-58-amSWAY SAFELYWhen hunting for the perfect tree make sure that it is alive and sturdy.   Hanging your hammock from a dead tree could result in injury to yourself or others around you.  Even if your chosen tree looks alive, check above you for dead branches that could fall.Hanging your hammock no more than 18” off the ground is best for preventing accidents and avoiding damage to higher branches and leaves.  (Never hang your hammock more than you’re willing to fall – accidents happen!) Always hang your hammock on the thickest part of the tree trunk and avoid trees that bend or are planted in wet areas – they could potentially become uprooted and wet soil is far more susceptible to impact than dry ground.screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-9-40-16-amLEAVE ONLY FOOTPRINTSWhen it’s time to head home, pack everything up and inspect your campsite and surrounding area for anything you could have left behind. Double check that all trash and leftover food is packed up and taken with you. Your site should be left as good, if not better, than the way you found it. screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-9-40-23-amHAVE FUNMost importantly, have fun and relax knowing that you are doing your part to keep our wild places wild!For more information, visit and www.LNT.org read more

Instagram Takeover: Cathy Anderson

first_imgThis month’s Instagram Takeover features North Carolina-based photographer Cathy Anderson. Having grown up in the mountains of Western North Carolina, Cathy has been exploring and photographing the region for most of her life.Cathy scaling an outcropping in the Linville Gorge. Photo by Halley Burleson.“My dad raised me in a darkroom and my entire childhood was filled with adventures and memories of creating photographs with my him,” Cathy says. “I have had a camera in my hand since I was a kid and am largely self-taught, but have taken just a few classes here and there.”Her lifelong passion for creating beautiful images has spawned an impressive portfolio of inspiring landscape and outdoor adventure photos. One look at Cathy’s photos will have you planning your next outdoor adventure, but don’t say we didn’t warn you.You can keep up with Cathy adventures here, and stay tuned to our Instagram account all week as we share some her all-time  favorite images.A Q & A With CathyBRO: What is your current home base and where are you from originally?CA: I currently live in Morganton, NC and was born and raised in Mount Holly, NC.BRO: Outside of photography, what is your favorite outdoor activity?CA: Last year, I was introduced to the outdoor community and various extreme sports, gaining a ton of super supportive friends along the way.  That’s when I got back into rock climbing and backpacking for the first time since I was a teenager.  I also love exploring the Linville Gorge, ballroom dancing, and plan on getting my hang gliding pilot’s license and SCUBA certification this year. BRO: What is your favorite town in the Blue Ridge Mountains and why?CA: Cullowheeeeeeeee!  I’m a little partial because I graduated from the finest college in the land, however, it’s the most centralized town that packs a punch with outdoor exploration for all sports.BRO: If you could only choose one area in this region to hike, explore, and photograph for the rest of your life what would it be?  CA: That’s hard to pick just one!  I love Panthertown, Linville Gorge, and especially any of the slot canyons that are yet to be discovered.BRO: One piece of gear (minus your camera) you wouldn’t head into the woods without?  CA: My headlamp; it shows me where to go (sometimes I still get spooked in the dark!), let’s me light paint in the dark, and lets me do various other photography-related artistic thingies.last_img read more

Green Revolution

first_imgRetired pro cyclist Floyd Landis, a Pennsylvania native, sells CBD products at his recently opened Floyd’s cafe in Lancaster. Photo courtesy of Floyd’s of Leadville “She’s just about ready,” says Landis. The tableau smacks of a Cheech & Chong film, but this is totally legal.    Landis is one of many entrepreneurs driving a new and fast-growing hemp industry. He hopes businesses throughout the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic will adapt similar, locally focused seed-to-shop models. If that happens, resulting market stability could easily transform the Blue Ridge into a hemp-growing mecca. Farmers like King say that’s good news indeed.  The process has been challenging for a number of reasons. For starters, locally adapted varieties of hemp no longer exist. Precedent research was mostly based out of China and Eastern Europe, and was decades old.  Floyd Landis strolls with Amish farmer, Ben King, through a one-acre patch of six- and seven-foot-tall organically grown Cannabis sativa plants in Pennsylvania’s southern Lancaster County. The retired road cyclist and disqualified Tour de France winner palpates a thick, bright-green cola, smells his fingertips and grins at business manager, Jake Sitler, also a former pro bicyclist. “What we don’t want is people literally betting their farm on a bunch of hype,” says Morton. “We need to put them in a position to succeed.”   Changing public sentiments around marijuana and increased interest in the health benefits of CBD led to nationwide reforms in the mid-2010s, and federal legislation was passed in 2014 authorizing agricultural research and development for hemp production conducted with university oversight. Morton helped to launch JMU’s research program a year later. Another boost came in 2018, when commodity hemp production was legalized at the federal level.   Cover Photo: Hemp plants are being grown on farmlands across Appalachia. photo courtesy of Getty Images “It’s been a lot of educated guessing, a lot of trial and error,” says Morton. For instance, while Ukrainian hemp outcompetes weeds and requires few herbicides, there is a magic window for planting in Virginia. Miss it and weeds will swarm and kill seedlings.  “Back then, pretty much all the research was focused on CBD production,” says Morton. And for good reason: Related domestic markets reached about $1.3 billion in 2019 and are projected to grow to upward of $11.3 billion by 2024. That’s good news for farmers, as it takes about 100 pounds of cured female flowers to make just one liter of CBD oil, and an acre of hemp produces roughly 1,305 pounds of flowers.   “For me, this was a new beginning,” says Landis. “It’s been very, very positive.”  Landis was prescribed opiates for pain following surgery. With his life spiraling into a nightmare, he became addicted. A friend suggested CBD to help him kick the habit.  But CBD isn’t the only product fueling a hemp farming renaissance. There’s opportunity around edible seeds and industrial fiber as well. “The funny thing about it is, this is something that’s both new to us and really historical,” says James Madison University (JMU) professor Sam Morton. He helps direct the school’s hemp research program, which focuses on seed and fiber production. Still, Rockingham County was—and remains—Virginia’s largest agricultural producer. If there was a place to start reinventing the wheel, it was here. But there was a catch.  There’s also the issue of a shaky market. Recent legalization, regulatory uncertainty around quality controls, and international competition can make it tough to secure buyers. Last year, farmers flocked to the promise of a new cash crop and created a supply glut, which led non-prenegotiated prices to drop by upwards of 75 percent. The crop is one of many: Landis’s company, Floyd’s of Leadville, has contracted with about 85 local farmers to grow more than 255 acres of hemp annually.   “These folks know how to work hard and still do pretty much everything by hand the old-fashioned way,” says Landis. “Their emphasis is on premium quality goods and produce, which meets our needs exactly.” But Morton says progress is being made. Virginia’s first cooperative processing plant—which handles seeds, fiber, and CBD extraction—launched in Wythe County in late 2019. Others have followed near Harrisonburg and in Richmond. When Landis co-founded Floyd’s of Leadville in 2016, he was among the vanguard of a new industry. Today the company’s products are sold in more than 3,000 convenience stores and 800 bikes shops and by 2,000-plus bike parts distributors. It grosses more than $25 million annually. He hopes other companies will follow in the footsteps of Floyd’s of Leadville and offer similar opportunities to struggling farmers. Sales from seeds and fiber, though, are even more substantial: The U.S. market reached $3.3 billion in 2019 and is expected to swell to about $15 billion by 2025. “It’s a considerable niche with a lot of room for growth,” says Morton.  Hemp farming is gaining a foothold in Appalachia—and could turn the region into a production powerhouse. For instance, when seeds can be sold at farmer’s markets and health-foods stores, or used as high-protein and fatty acid fodder for organic poultry and swine. An array of CBD products offered by Floyd’s of Leadville. Photo courtesy of Floyd’s of Leadville Hemp was vital to colonial and early American life. It arrived in Virginia in the mid-18th century and grew so well it birthed major industries. The plant was used in everything from the first blue jeans, to sails and cordage for U.S. Navy warships, to high-end poultry fodder, to culinary applications. By the early 19th century, the Shenandoah Valley, where JMU is located, had become the U.S. hemp-growing capital. Processing and distribution hubs soon sprang up in Kentucky and Tennessee as well.   While CBD plots rarely exceed more than an acre of land, farmers cultivating fiber or seed crops need to grow larger amounts. To understand their unique needs, Morton and his JMU colleagues partnered with experimentally inclined area farmers for plantings ranging from five to 15 acres.  “And it worked,” says Landis. He started using it for recovery after rides, to ease anxiety, and alleviate pain. Astounded by the results, he began researching production, which soon led to investment.   “On one hand, having a regional growing history like ours was encouraging, because you knew the crop used to thrive here,” says Morton. That said, hemp hadn’t been cultivated at scale in the Shenandoah Valley for at least a century. By 2015, knowledge around best practices had long since been lost.  “We’re looking at things like which varieties grow and yield the best in this climate, when are the ideal planting and harvesting times, what sort of pests do we have to look out for, what are the preferred soil conditions, can we adapt machinery for harvesting,” and so on, says Morton.  “When I was a kid, tobacco was a big thing for small farms,” says Landis. Planting a few acres annually could bring cash for new equipment and other expenses. Now that tobacco has essentially vanished, “We think hemp can fill that gap, and in a big way.”  Known as hemp, the plants are the same species that yields marijuana, but have been bred to produce low THC (the psychoactive compound responsible for the mind-altering effects of marijuana), and large concentrations of cannabidiol, or CBD. They’ll be harvested in about two weeks and taken to a Columbia processing facility, where the chemical will be extracted. The CBD is used to make a range of value-added products, including tinctures, creams, balms, tonics, gummies, and more. They’re sold at a new storefront café in nearby Lancaster and online.  “Doing this here is attractive because the hemp grows much better [in this region] than it does out west,” says Landis, who has sourced from U.S. farmers since launching Floyd’s in Colorado in 2016. There, mature plants are about a third smaller. That means farmers like King could gross upward of $20,000 per acre. No small feat, considering corn brings just $570. Affordable processing is a vital piece of the puzzle and a big step toward economic viability, says Morton. Companies that rely on profit-sharing agreements with farmers, instead of charging flat fees, help streamline the production of marketable products. For his part, Landis got interested in hemp after discovering the health benefits of CBD in the late 2000s. By then, a debilitating joint condition had necessitated a hip replacement and effectively ended his pro cycling career. Meanwhile, he was embroiled in legal controversies surrounding former USPS teammate Lance Armstrong and the squad’s systemic use of performance-enhancing drugs.   Partnering with local farmers seemed a win-win scenario. To minimize farmers’ risk, Floyd’s paid for seedstock and offered a buyer’s guarantee. The first crops were sown and harvested in 2019. Landis’s Lancaster café opened in January 2020. Like sister shops in Oregon and Colorado, it caters to athletes and physically active adults, coupling a bike showroom, coffee shop, and health-foods bistro with a comprehensive CBD outlet.      “I wanted to do something different with my life,” says Landis. Given his history around doping and elite sports, he thought it would be interesting to create a bike-shop-meets-café, with a focus on all-natural CBD supplements and pain relievers. But Landis, who has long lived in Colorado, was inspired to return to Pennsylvania by more than profits. Raised in a Mennonite farming community near Lancaster, he saw the devastation wreaked by a declining dairy industry—120 farms closed statewide in 2018 alone. Like tobacco, growing hemp for CBD can bring big profits, but requires close monitoring and is labor intensive. Additionally, the oil in the plants jams up industrial machinery. It seemed a perfect fit for groups like the Amish.  Eventually, improvements to the cotton gin and increased availability of cheap fiber from Asia led to declines in the 1860s. When U.S. government prohibitions on marijuana—which, outside of special permitting, included industrial hemp—went into effect in 1937, the industry faded further. Heightened federal drug legislation passed in 1970 finished it off.     “Basically, we’re trying to write the book on how to do this the right way,” says Morton. The goal is to create seed-to-shelf guidelines that will give farmers the information they need to make educated decisions around what is currently a high-risk market. last_img read more