Hemp sits in the gray area of being an “approved” food additive. Those in the industry have waited for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to take notice. Regardless of whether hemp can pop up in certain foods, it’s a viable, and legal crop with limitless potential. Acknowledgement of this fact has finally come to be with the awarding of a USDA grant valued at $20 million.
This USDA grant awards two multidisciplinary projects focused entirely on hemp. The grants are only a small portion of the $146 million investment in sustainable agriculture from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). However, hemp industry professionals are still celebrating this big step forward.
Half goes to study hemp’s on economic opportunities
Specifically in the Western portion of the country, Oregon State University’s Global Hemp Innovation Center will work to define hemp’s economic opportunities within the region. The $10 million grant will fund a five-year project. The university will partner with eight other institutions. Together, they’ll research the needs of rural community businesses and farmers throughout the Western Pacific region. Research will also look at hemp farming in the Native American community.
Specifics of the project will help hemp farmers, processors, and manufacturers within this region:
- Discover optimal locations for farms
- Select the best genetics for the climate
- Understand where/how to process help materials for specific products
- Learn to incorporate hemp into existing markets in a non-disruptive way
- Consider what growth markets could expand the industry
Results could greatly improve hemp farming across this entire area of the country. It may also make hemp farming a more successful venture for minority farmers.
Half goes to feeding the fishes
Central State University, located in Ohio took the other $10 million grant. Their research will cover using hemp in fish-farming feed. Aquaculture is a huge business, and exploration into hemp in cattle feed is already under way. The fish farmers need to catch up.
Over five years, the team at Central State will partner with researchers from additional universities as well. They’ll look at ways to increase the economic markets and production sustainability for seafood and hemp.
Appropriately named, the project titled itself SUSHI, or the Sustainable Use of a Safe Hemp Ingredient. You can’t miss what industry hemp connects with with a name like that.
Not only will this project focus on hemp in fish food, but it will also help the farmers. It will train Black and Native American graduates in agriculture, giving them the necessary tools to create economically and environmentally-sustainable hemp and aquaculture systems. If all the dots connect right, this can lead to an increased production of healthy fish, specifically for the Menominee Nation in the area.
It could also offer up a big innovation for aquaculture in general.
The sustainability of hemp got it noticed
Hemp’s legalization made it a viable crop for any farmer to grow. But, research like this makes a considerable difference in how the plant gets used. What finally got hemp noticed for these two significant USDA grants?
Unlike other large crops, you can grow a lot of hemp without it being a drain on natural resources. Hemp doesn’t need a lot of water to thrive. It can grow in a variety of climates and weather conditions. It requires minimal chemicals to keep it healthy, often none at all, and doesn’t weaken the quality of the soil. Hemp even naturally aerates the soil and can revitalize it.
With these traits of the plant itself, the more ways we can use it, the better for our environment and our wallets.
We love hemp at Arbor Vita8
As a hemp processor, with resources and services that extend from seed to sale, Arbor Vita8 was sold, long ago, on the impressiveness of hemp. We see its potential every day as we process plants in our high-end, massive facility. We take hemp seriously, and know you should too. Contact us today to learn more about our services and check us out online to view our extensive resources.