USDA Awards $5 Million Climate-Smart Grant to Lincoln University for Hemp Research
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded a $5 million grant to Lincoln University of Missouri to aid in the commercialization of industrial hemp for agricultural and environmental uses.
The grant is one of 70 projects the USDA is funding through its Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program, an effort to expand markets by investing in partnerships to support America’s climate-smart farmers, ranchers and forest landowners. Announced at Lincoln last February by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the Climate-Smart program finances pilot projects that create market opportunities for U.S. agricultural and forestry products that use climate-smart practices and employ cost-effective ways to measure and verify greenhouse-gas benefits.
Lincoln’s Hemp Institute will lead the project, titled “Scaling Up the Industrial Hemp Supply Chain as Carbon Negative Feedstock for Fuel and Fiber.” Led by Hemp Institute Chair Babu Valliyodan, an assistant professor of molecular biology and genomics, the research team will develop ways to commercialize and market hemp crops that boost soil carbon sequestration and climate resilience. Carbon sequestration is the long-term storage of carbon in plants, soils, geologic formations and the ocean where the carbon has the immediate potential to become carbon dioxide gas. Hemp is an exceptional carbon sequester with the potential to store 2 to 3 tons of carbon in the soil for every acre of crop.
The project aims to provide value for monetized environmental services, including carbon dioxide removal via new genetics and management practices, increasing the sustainability of hemp as an annual crop in the United States. The research team will work with an assortment of farmers, businesses, advocacy groups and universities in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.