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US: Department of Agriculture invests in hemp seed bank



Macro photography by Tommy L. Gomez

O United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)  will make funds available to support the “improvement, testing and development” of “superior performing” hemp varieties. It takes about 125 thousand dollars to build a Hemp Germplasm Repository.

This is a new funding opportunity in the area of ​​research into high-performing hemp varieties and has just been published by United States Department of Agriculture at the beginning of January 2021.

According to a the Supplementary and Alternative Crops (SAC) competitive grant program from the government agency, a task for hemp growers will be to help build the USDA Hemp Germplasm Repository in New York.

The aim of the program is to “produce results to increase the cost effectiveness and competitiveness of [hemp] grown as components of production systems across the country”.

In addition to industrial hemp grown for “value-added products,” funding is also available for oil-growing operations.

Germinated cannabis seed. Macro photography by Tommy L. Gomez

“The purpose of this integrated research and extension program is to adapt these multi-purpose crops to different growing regions in the United States,” the brochure reads, “so that domestic production of canola oil and industrial hemp can significantly increase.” and be profitable across the country. ”

The USDA announced a similar SAC research grant in 2019, noting the need for greater effectiveness in hemp cultivation following the federal legalization of the crop under the US hemp industry reform legislation, the Farm Bill. 2018. But funding for this year's program has increased significantly, from $50 to $125 per year, for a project period of up to four years.

“The SAC program encourages applicants to establish and work through multi-state, region-based research networks to address the priority national or regional scientific needs of the canola and industrial hemp industries,” the USDA said. “The SAC program seeks to accelerate the development and use of superior varieties and practices adapted to regional conditions that produce benefits for producers and allied industries.” Applications for this grant must be submitted by March 30th of this year.

Macro photography by Tommy L. Gomez

Seeds will be stored in a bank in New York

Hemp seeds that are produced and collected through this funding program will be stored in a newly established facility in the AgriTech department at Cornell University in Geneva, New York. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), soon to become the US Senate Majority Leader, announced that work had begun on the country's only hemp seed bank in late 2019.

"When it comes to pushing New York State's burgeoning industrial hemp industry to even greater dimensions, the Industrial Hemp Germplasm Repository is exactly what the doctor ordered," the senator said at the time. “This facility will not only act as the only industrial hemp seed bank in the United States, it will also enable world-class agricultural scientists at Cornell to help drive industrial hemp entrepreneurship.”

Separately, in November, the USDA awarded a national hemp advocacy group $200 as part of a program to promote international trade policies that support the industry.

The Justice Department is also issuing a $350 grant to a different federal agency to help develop a method of differentiating hemp from cannabis, as the latter remains illegal at the federal level.


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