By: Kristin Jordan, Senior Counsel
Larry Smart, professor in the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell University, in a greenhouse examining industrial hemp. Photo Credit: Justin Muir/Cornell University
The kick-off of the first U.S. industrial hemp germplasm repository, or seed bank, was recently announced by New York State Senator Charles Schumer. An initial investment of $500,000 in federal funding will be used to commence the brand new and nation’s only industrial hemp seed bank, which will be located in Geneva, the Finger Lakes Region of New York. The Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture Research Service (USDA-ARS) will oversee the development and will co-locate at
Cornell AgriTech. The facility currently maintains seeds and performs research and development on crops like grapes, apples, cherries and Brassica.
The Industrial Hemp Germplasm Repository will allow geneticists, scientists and researchers to use the germplasm to study disease and pest control methods and breed cultivars better suited for specific geographic and climate conditions, in addition to utilizing the data for future varietal creation. The University believes the cultivars will be ready for growers within five years, which is significant, given the fact that the last remaining stockpile of hemp seeds was destroyed by the U.S. government in the 1980s.
news release, Senator Schumer said, “I fought tooth and nail to secure this federal funding while also working to strip back the burdensome federal restrictions that held our farmers and growers back from growing industrial hemp as an agriculture commodity, because I knew the potential this crop had to transform the upstate New York economy.”
Kathryn J. Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences said the seed bank and “the research that it will allow” Cornell and USDA-ARS scientists “will be vital resources for New York state farmers.”
Notably, earlier last week, Senator Schumer and executives from
Canopy Growth Corp., based in Smith Falls, Ontario, met in Kirkwood, New York (just two hours south of Geneva), to announce plans for its $150 million hemp industrial park on a 48-acre plot. This will be Canopy’s first U.S. facility. Canopy Growth plans to employ more than 200 individuals to extract and process hemp supplied by farmers to extract and process CBD products. New York farmers will receive priority status.
With over 500 licensed growers and 100 permitted processors, this infrastructure will provide much needed supply chain support for the nascent New York industrial hemp program. Moreover, the industry will offer lucrative opportunities for struggling farmers and residents of New York’s Southern Tier, which has seen economic decline over more than two decades.
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