Tennessee State University, the Hemp Alliance of Tennessee, the University of Tennessee and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Partner to Research and Develop Hemp Industry  

Nashville – A collaborative initiative led by Tennessee State University (TSU), in partnership with the Hemp Alliance of Tennessee (HAT), the University of Tennessee (UT), and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) was granted nearly $5 million by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities to  help expand markets for American producers who produce climate-smart commodities and provide meaningful benefits to small and underserved producers. 

The project, “Climate-Smart Fiber Hemp: A Versatile Thread Connecting the Nation’s Underserved Farmers, Climate Change Mitigation and Novel Market Opportunities,” aims to expand the production of industrial hemp as a climate-smart commodity, evaluate its greenhouse gas benefits (GHG), and promote the value of market development to a cross-section of production agriculture, including small, medium, and underserved producers across the state of Tennessee. Special efforts are planned to identify and recruit underserved producers (e.g. minority producers, women, veterans), as well as farmers from the nine most economically distressed counties in Tennessee and the 30 counties at risk for becoming economically distressed.

The proposal was granted an approximate funding ceiling of $4,972,800. 

“Tennessee can become the leading producer of hemp in the Southeast United States,” said Frederick Cawthon, President of HAT. “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.”

The project is one of 71 proposals selected as part of the second Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities funding pool, and one of only five hemp-related projects to receive funding as part of the program.

“TDA is pleased to collaborate with TSU, UT, and HAT on initiatives that keep agriculture the number one industry in Tennessee,” Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M. said. “We join them in efforts that aid in discovering new uses of industrial hemp and boost farming opportunities in rural areas. Tennessee is eager to increase support of new and existing hemp producers through this USDA grant award.” In September, the USDA Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities announced $2.8 billion in grants for 70 tentatively selected projects from the first funding pool, for projects between $5 million to $100 million. On Monday, the USDA announced an additional $325 million for 71 projects under the second funding pool, for projects from $250,000-$4,999,999.

According to the USDA, the second funding pool was particularly focused on innovative projects that emphasize enrolling small and underserved producers and invest in measuring, monitoring, reporting and verifying the benefits of climate-smart practices at minority-serving institutions.

Earlier this year, the Hemp Alliance of Tennessee announced a study on the feasibility of the production of hemp fiber in the state, funded by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture. The University of Tennessee was engaged to carry out the necessary research. The findings of the study, which will assess the likelihood for successful Tennessee-based production and processing for the various major uses of hemp fiber, will soon be released. 

See the full list of USDA Climate-Smart Projects here

Image by jcomp on Freepik

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