The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the first pool of grant recipients Sept. 14 for its Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program, and two of the selected projects focus on the research and development of hemp as a climate-smart commodity.
The USDA announced in February the funding opportunity allows the organization to “finance pilot projects that create market opportunities for U.S. agricultural and forestry products that use climate-smart practices and include innovative, cost-effective ways to measure and verify greenhouse gas benefits.”
The organization announced Sept. 14 that it’s investing up to $2.8 billion for the first round of 70 selected projects—two of which are focused on hemp research and development and will receive a combined total of $21 million.
The USDA granted $15 million to support the “Industrial Hemp for Fiber and Grain” research project led by Iconoclast Industries, LLC.
The project is expected to take place across Florida, New York, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin and is designed to “expand climate-smart markets and remedy lack of available data on environmentally beneficial practices for hemp production by providing open-accessible data and training and enabling monetization of climate-smart practices through a pilot designation in a digital marketplace,” according to the website.
The project will also establish a workforce to engage with and financially support underserved producers as they start to implement and learn climate-smart practices, according to the website. Other project partners include the University of Florida, University of Georgia, INDHemp, Global Hemp Association, 357 Hemp Logistics and more.
The USDA awarded $5 million to the “Scaling Up the Industrial Hemp Supply Chain as Carbon Negative Feedstock for Fuel and Fiber” research project, led by Lincoln University.
This project is expected to take place in Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas, and will “help with commercializing and marketing climate-smart hemp crops while driving soil carbon sequestration and climate resilience.” In addition, it will “provide effective valuation and monetization of environmental services, including carbon dioxide removal via implementation of new genetics and management practices to increase sustainability of hemp as an annual crop in the U.S,” according to the website.
Other partners of the project include the National Hemp Association, Missouri Farmers Union, Oklahoma State University, Midwest Natural Fiber, New West Genetics and more.
The USDA plans to announce the second round of grant recipients later this year, anticipating that total project funding for both groups could hit more than $3 billion—triple of what the agency initially anticipated investing.