TSU Grant

Tennessee State University receives $4.9 million grant from USDA

As the hemp industry grows, finding new ways to increase its sustainability becomes an even greater focus for the global community. The United States has been a leader in the industry for years, helping explore new possibilities concerning the hemp plant. The research surrounding the hemp industry has yielded exciting new results in recent years thanks to the effort of individuals like those from Tennessee State University.

In a recent announcement, the United States Department of Agriculture awarded Tennessee State University a $4.9 million grant for their research surrounding hemp. The focus of the project would investigate hemp’s potential as a climate-smart commodity and its impact on factors such as the environment, the overall market, and the agriculture industry.

The grant provided by the USDA comes from their Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities opportunity. Tennessee State University’s proposal was one of 71 projects selected on December 12, 2022, for grant funding. Under the grant conditions, the pilot programs of each recipient will last anywhere from 1 to 5 years.

According to the USDA website, “This effort will expand markets for America’s climate-smart commodities, leverage the greenhouse gas benefits of climate-smart commodity production, and provide direct, meaningful benefits to production agriculture, including for small and underserved producers.”

The USDA hopes for these funded projects will result in several outcomes. These goals include reaching more than 25 million acres of working land, partnerships with over 20 tribes and tribal groups, and the removal of more than 60 million metric tons of carbon dioxide over the course of the pilot programs. More than 200 projects were selected for the USDA grants between September and December of 2022 to receive a total of more than $5.9 Billion in funding.

In the proposal submitted to the USDA by Tennessee State University and their partners, they outlined their goals as “the plan to promote market development of industrial hemp supply as a climate-smart commodity through incentives to underserved Tennessee growers enrolled in our pilot production Program (Program). The Program will engender equity and empower producers through financial and technical assistance to embrace climate-smart practices in developing a resilient market for supply to end application markets.”

The research group from Tennessee State University outlined their proposal, citing the need for “global challenges posed by climate change”. The 8 page proposal detailed several key focuses in their study including:

  • Environmental and soil health
  • Climatic impacts
  • Supplemental research on genetics
  • Supply chain and market research

The project will be based in Tennessee, where a wide variety of hemp can be grown. Researchers will gather data on numerous aspects of the supply chain in order to determine the steps needed to create a more sustainable hemp industry for everyone involved and reduce inequity for minority players. The data will then be used to establish protocols and regulations to improve the industry as a whole.

This line of research will place the hemp plant under a microscope from seed to end product. As new niches in the market open, the need for sustainable and responsible stewardship of the plant from start to finish becomes even greater. The researchers at Tennessee State University will help tackle this issue head-on with their project.

At the time of this writing, no deadline for the research completion has been set. For updates on the project and deadlines, please visit Tennessee State University’s website.

The undertaking outlined is massive, but the outcomes could be exponentially beneficial to the global hemp market. Their reception of the $4.9 million grant from the USDA would help fund research that will shape not only the Tennessee hemp market but the global industry as well.

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