The USDA has included two significant cannabis projects, one of which is related to carbon sequestration, in its first list of $3.5 billion The Climate Smart Goods Awards were announced on Wednesday Written by Minister Tom Vilsack.
The projects are helping to develop and market climate-smart commodities, Vilsack said, giving a voluntary, market-driven boost to sustainably produced commodity crops.
In addition, Vilsack said the efforts will “identify, monitor, verify, and report on greenhouse gas benefits from the projects.” Grants are funded through the USDA Commodity Trust Foundation.
A total of 70 high-dollar scholarships have been announced out of over 1,000 program applicants.
“We were overwhelmed by the response,” Vilsack said. The USDA raised the total grant value to $3.5 billion from the $1 billion originally announced.
Over the life of the organic farming projects, the USDA hopes to log more than 50 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent and greenhouse gas reductions, Vilsack said.
“That equals about 10 million cars taken off the roads,” he added.
Hemp was among the commodities targeted by the USDA to develop agricultural markets that would sequester carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases through climate-smart practices. Other crops and industries include forestry, dairy, livestock, cotton, peanuts, nuts, fruits, vegetables and specialty crops, Vilsack said.
• Industrial hemp for fiber and grain
A $15 million grant has been awarded to provide open access to synthetic fiber and grain supply chain data in a digital marketplace to Atlanta-based Iconoclast Industries, LLC, led by Ryan LaRoca. The USDA said the project will also develop an inclusive workforce skilled in climate-smart practices, and support financially disadvantaged producers as they learn these practices. The project includes industrial cannabis partners as well as some medical marijuana partners and cannabis cannabis partners.
Major partners in the cannabis industry include Nashville-based Ganjanesh Bioscience; INDHEMP in Montana; World Hemp Association of Utah, 357 Illinois-based Hemp Logistics, Minorities for Medical Marijuana; Canniginal and EntreVation LLC. Several universities are listed as partners including: University of Florida, University of Georgia, Stockton University and Stillman College. Projects will take place in Florida, New York, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin.
• Expanding the industrial hemp supply chain as carbon-negative feedstock for fuels and fibres
A $5 million grant has been awarded to Jefferson City, MO-based Lincoln University to help market and market climate-smart hemp crops while driving soil carbon sequestration and climate resilience. The USDA said the project will also implement new genetic and management practices to increase the sustainability of the hemp plant as an annual crop in the United States.
Other partners include the National Association of DC-based Hemp, San Jose, and California-based DTE Materials; Murray, KY-based HempWood, Kansas-based Midwest Natural Fibers, Colorado-based New West Genetics; New Haven, CT-based REA Resource Recovery Systems; and Missouri-based Rockwater and Winston-Salem, and North Carolina-based Renaissance Viper. State and university partners include Oklahoma State University, Prairie View A&M University, St. Louis University, Southeast Missouri State University, and the University of Missouri. Projects will take place in Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas.
Hemp is also mentioned as one of several crops in other Climate Smart Projects in several other grants:
• $90 million: ADM and Climate Smart Partner Solutions
• 50 million dollars: Oregon State University: Climate Smart Potatoes from the Pacific Northwest: Managing Soil Health for Climate Smart Outcomes
• $65 million: Texas A&M Agrileaf Research: Climate Smart Texas Initiative
Vilsack said the USDA will announce a slew of other smaller grants ranging from $250,000 to $5 million at a later date, for a total of 450 grant recipients.