The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded close to $5 million to a consortium for sustainable hemp fiber research.
The consortium’s collaborators, led by Tennessee State University (TSU), also includes the Tennessee Department of Agriculture and the Hemp Alliance of Tennessee. The project will seek to boost the production of industrial hemp, evaluate its greenhouse gas reduction benefits, and promote the value of market development to agricultural producers large and small across Tennessee. This includes minority producers and those in economically distressed counties.
One of the expected outcomes of the project is the delivery of approximately 1,500 tons of hemp fiber on 500 acres. Furthermore, consensus-based technical standards and specifications for hemp fiber materials will be developed along with a sustainability certification program.
Earlier this year, industry advocacy group U.S. Hemp Roundtable got behind the project; urging hemp businesses and organizations to encourage USDA’s approval of the proposed project. The organisation is pretty chuffed it scored a guernsey.
“The Roundtable and its sister organization, the U.S. Hemp Authority, are particularly excited to work with the HBCU-led consortium to develop a sustainability certification program that will help ensure that hemp plays a critical role in environmental protection and climate change remediation,” said Roundtable General Counsel Jonathan Miller.
The funding is being provided under the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program, an effort to expand markets for America’s climate-smart commodities. It’s more than a token program, with USDA investing more than $3.1 billion in 141 projects. 70 projects were announced on September 14, and another 71 projects announced on December 12.
“Expanding opportunities for small and underserved producers is a key goal of Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Small and underserved producers are facing the impacts of climate change head on, with limited resources, and have the most to gain from leveraging the growing market demand for agricultural goods produced in a sustainable, climate-smart way”.
A couple of other hemp-focused projects have also scored funding, including one on scaling up the industrial hemp supply chain as carbon negative feedstock for fuel and fiber.
A complete list of projects is available here.