The Oregon State University’s Global Hemp Innovation Center was awarded a $10 million grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to research and define economic opportunities for hemp in the Pacific Western Region.
The USDA announced that the grants were provided by its National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Sustainable Agricultural System, part of a $146 million investment in sustainable agriculture research. Other programs received grants to aid in their study as well.
The grant will fund a five-year project shared between OSU and eight other institutions. According to High Times, the collaborative effort of the project will focus on addressing the concerns of businesses on reservations and rural communities.
The project consists of researchers from OSU and other universities in the Western United States and will include Native American farmers, tribal leaders, and other representatives of rural communities.
“The potential economic opportunities this new commodity may present tremendous potential for rural communities, and our project has set out to ensure those opportunities are equally available and relevant to all kinds of farmers,” Global Hemp Innovation Center associate director Jeffrey Steiner said in a news release from OSU.
The project will focus on which areas across the four states of Washington, Oregon, California, and Nevada are best suited to grow hemp and process hemp materials into manufactured hemp products. The project will also study incorporating hemp into current production systems that aid the markets rather than disrupt them.
Researchers involved in the project hope the study will aid in developing a comprehensive hemp industry that has been expanding since hemp was legalized through the 2018 Farm Bill.
States like California have been passing bills to establish hemp regulation further.
With increased funding for hemp research, the project can lead to sustainable solutions in agriculture that benefit everyone while also being inclusive to historically underrepresented communities.
As the research for the project is underway, different brands can do their part in sustainability by transitioning to sustainable packaging.