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NIFA Hemp Research is Building Foundational Knowledge, Exploring New Frontiers

Nifa Author
John Martins, Public Affairs Specialist

While the sheer scope of what we have yet to learn about industrial hemp might seem daunting, an army of researchers across the United States is taking up the challenge.

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is currently funding dozens of projects, in various competitive and noncompetitive programs, aimed at creating knowledge that will help make hemp a viable and lucrative crop in the U.S.

In fiscal years 2021 and 2022 alone, NIFA has invested well over $20 million in hemp-related investigations. From large multistate efforts to grants supporting small businesses developing innovative technologies, these projects are seeking to develop the know-how that will help producers, processors, regulators and officials make the best decisions about cultivating industrial hemp.

The business of growing and selling industrial hemp

NIFA is currently funding several projects aimed at uncovering the economic opportunities and risks associated with growing hemp.

  • At North Carolina A&T State University, a $500,000 project led by Dr. Obed Quaicoe is determining why farmers go into hemp production; how profitable hemp farms are; what potential risks are associated with hemp production; and what nutrient combinations enhance plant growth and reduce disease.
     
  • In Michigan, Dr. Stephen Yanni at Bay Mills Community College is launching a Hemp Tribal Research Initiative ($499,000) that joins the tribal college’s expertise with that of Michigan State University, Lake Superior State University and the Little Traverse Bay of Odawa Indians to facilitate the successful adoption of hemp by the state’s tribal communities.
     
  • At Oregon State University, a $638,000 project led by Dr. David Hendrix is examining both hemp and hop to reveal how both evolved and diverged, and what genotypes might regulate the production of flavor and aroma compounds, both of which are characteristics that make the plants valuable.
     
  • At the University of Vermont, Dr. Jane Kolodinsky is leading a $500,000 project that seeks to identify what economic impact a hemp sector might have on the state’s rural communities.

Developing best practices for hemp crop management

Much of the knowledge base on optimal hemp production in the U.S. is either lost or outdated, and scientists are working collaboratively to quickly fill those gaps.

Identifying new frontiers in hemp

In addition to establishing the foundational knowledge for the optimal cultivation of industrial hemp, researchers are exploring ways to extract value from the plant beyond its traditional utilizations.

Read Part 1 of this blog to learn more about USDA efforts in gathering data and other information to help restore hemp as a lucrative and viable business in the U.S.

Farm Bill Priority Areas
Plant health, production, and products
U.S. States and Territories
Alabama,
California,
Illinois,
Kentucky,
Michigan,
New Jersey,
New York,
North Carolina,
North Dakota,
Ohio,
Oregon,
South Carolina,
Utah,
Vermont,
Virginia,
Washington
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