Oregon State Receives $ 10 Million Grant To Study Western US Hemp Market


CORVALLIS, Oregon – The Global Hemp Innovation Center at Oregon State University has received a $ 10 million grant from the United States Department of Agriculture to identify economic opportunities for hemp in the western United States.

The five-year project is funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Sustainable Farming Systems Grant program. Oregon state scientists are partnering with eight institutions across the country for this research, which meets the needs of businesses and farmers in Native Americans and other rural communities in a four-state region of the Western Pacific .

“We created the Global Hemp Innovation Center in 2019 to bring together a wide variety of stakeholders to answer the big unanswered questions about the hemp industry,” said Jeffrey Steiner, associate director of the center. “While enthusiasm for hemp has grown, there is still a huge lack of knowledge about the cultivation.”

The recent decriminalization of hemp with the passage of the 2018 Farm Law has sparked great interest in the potential of hemp. Building a successful hemp industry requires more research on where the different market classes for hemp grains, fibers and essential oils should be optimally grown and the best genetics to be used; how to incorporate hemp into existing production systems to supplement rather than disrupt markets; where to process the cultivated materials that are used to make hemp products; and what are the likely growth markets to support industry expansion.

The research team will address these questions by targeting the rural transportation corridor that runs through Washington, Oregon, Nevada and California east of the Cascade-Sierra Nevada Mountains from Canada to Mexico. The region presents diverse and generally arid environmental conditions and encompasses both large areas of irrigated and non-irrigated production.

Because Native American tribes are widely represented in the Four-State region, researchers are including Native American farmers and other tribal leaders, including Confederate tribes from Warm Springs, Oregon, in the effort, with the goal of including their culture and economy needs as part of business development efforts.

“The Warm Springs Tribe is keen to explore and expand our agricultural opportunities in hemp production and this is one way to get there,” said Laurie Danzuka, Warm Springs Cannabis Project Coordinator. “This collaboration will allow us to identify potential sustainable uses for hemp, utilize best agricultural practices and provide learning opportunities for members.”

The engagement of tribal communities also aims to address historical inequalities in agriculture and will involve Native American students in different aspects of the emerging hemp industry, Steiner said.

“The initial involvement of tribal communities as well as other rural communities in this work is critical to its success,” Steiner said. “The potential economic opportunities that this new product may have have enormous potential for rural communities and our project aims to ensure that these opportunities are equally available and relevant to all types of farmers. “

In addition to scientists from the Global Hemp Innovation Center at the Oregon State College of Agricultural Sciences, the project also includes researchers from OSU’s Colleges of Business, Engineering, and Pharmacy, and the Extension Service.

Additional project partners include the University of California, Davis; Washington State University; University of Nevada, Reno Extension; USDA, Agricultural Research Service; United States Department of Transportation, Volpe National Transportation Systems Research Center, Federally Recognized Tribal Extension Program; 7 Generations, a Native American-owned company specializing in the commercial development of Indian countries; USDA, National Library of Agriculture; and the USDA, Western Rural Development Center.

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