The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded nearly $5 million in grant money to a partnership between Tennessee State University (TSU), the Hemp Alliance of Tennessee, the University of Tennessee (UT), and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture for hemp-focused projects, the Rogersville Review reports.
The project aims to develop new markets for the Tennessee hemp industry.
Dubbed the “Climate-Smart Fiber Hemp: A Versatile Thread Connecting the Nation’s Underserved Farmers, Climate Change Mitigation and Novel Market Opportunities,” the project hopes to expand the production of industrial hemp as a climate-smart commodity, evaluate its greenhouse gas benefits, and promote the value of market development to a cross-section of production agriculture, including small, medium, and underserved producers across the state.
The cohort is planning special efforts to identify and recruit underserved producers, including minorities, women, veterans, and farmers from the nine most economically distressed counties in the state along with those in the 30 counties most at risk for becoming economically distressed.
Frederick Cawthon, President of the Hemp Alliance of Tennessee, told the Review that the state “can become the leading producer of hemp in the Southeast United States.”
“We are committed to growing this industry responsibly, and we encourage all industries to examine how they can utilize this climate-smart and regenerative raw material.” — Cawthorn to the Review
Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M. added that state officials are “eager to increase support of new and existing hemp producers through this USDA grant award.”
The project was one of 71 projects selected as part of the second Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities funding pool, and one of just five hemp-related projects to receive funding as part of the program. In all, the funding ceiling for the project is $4,972,800.
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