Recently, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved nearly $1 million in grants for organic hemp production. This will serve as a stimulus for the cultivation of high-quality, organic hemp in the U.S. Previously, it was difficult for hemp businesses to get money from traditional funding institutions such as banks. This was a result of the strict regulations governing the hemp industry, but this has changed and hemp businesses may now access funds in the form of loans and/or grants.
Grants Available to U.S. Hemp Businesses
USDA Grant for Organic Hemp Farming
As previously mentioned, the USDA has provided almost $1 million in grants for organic hemp production. Researchers at Purdue University have been given the responsibility of studying the organic production of hemp using this grant. These funds will go towards:
- Developing the best practices for organic hemp farming
- Developing practices to integrate hemp into crop rotation systems
- Developing the best frameworks for planting times of different hemp cultivars
- Studying the best soils for hemp cultivation
- Determining other issues that affect hemp soils, such as microbial properties
Purdue University researchers will work in partnership with a Pennsylvania nonprofit known as The Rodale Institute to study regenerative agriculture.
The USDA has also granted $500,000 to researchers at Virginia Tech University to study hemp and switchgrass pollens.
USDA – Agricultural Marketing Services (AMS) Grants
The USDA supports U.S hemp farmers through the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). The AMS is working with different organizations to offer grants to U.S. hemp growers and producers. The grants support a variety of agricultural activities that cover different agricultural sectors.
To apply for this grant as a hemp business, you will need to register with SAM.gov, which takes 7-10 business days. You will also need to create a Grants.gov profile before submitting your application. After submitting, your application will be peer-reviewed. Applications with the highest peer review scores will be awarded the grant.
The USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program
This grant is offered in different states under the Department of Agriculture of each respective state. It covers hemp as well as other specialty crops such as nuts, fruits, vegetables, and horticulture. The amount awarded in this grant is determined by the state’s agricultural authorities. For example, the Pennsylvania Agricultural Department recently awarded a $460,000 grant to aid growers of hemp and other specialty crops during the hemp summit.
This grant acts as a stimulus to enhance the competitiveness of crops that are considered to be high priority because of their growth potential.
Southern SARE On-Farm Research Grants
Southern SARE offers support to farmers in different parts of the hemp industry. Currently, they are accepting proposals from industrial hemp farmers who want a grant to support their production efforts. It’s worth noting that they only support hemp businesses in states where hemp production has been legalized for research and/or commercial purposes.
Research projects can cover pre-harvest and post-harvest industrial hemp, and may include the seeds, stalks, fiber, or derivatives of the plant. Industrial hemp must meet the basic requirement of not exceeding 0.3% THC as per the USDA regulations.
Southern SARE industrial hemp grants fund up to $20,000 for up to two years of research. About 6 proposals are funded each year. You can find out more about this grant by visiting the SARE Projects Database.
Southern SARE hemp research grants cover the following:
- Sampling and analysis
- Equipment rentals
- Sourcing for materials and supplies
- Travel expenses
- Labor costs
- Refreshments and educational events
The following is not covered by this grant:
- Buying new equipment
- Starting or expanding a hemp farm
- Capital investments on a hemp farm
- Full meals for large gatherings
- Product testing
In the near future, it is highly likely that the USDA will allocate more grants to hemp farmers in an effort to encourage the best practices possible and ensure profitability.