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In the early ‘80s, the US government destroyed its last remaining stockpile of hemp seeds, citing federal prohibition as its impetus. Now, nearly 40 years later, hemp is legal to grow and transport across the country, and the non-psychoactive cannabis cousin is turning into the country’s new favorite cash crop. To bring things full circle, a new, federally-funded hemp seed bank will soon open in upstate New York.
First reported by Marijuana Moment, construction has officially begun on the “Industrial Hemp Germplasm Repository” at Cornell University’s AgriTech facility in Geneva, New York. Once complete, it will be the only active hemp seed bank in the country. The operation will be “charged with characterizing, maintaining, and distributing seeds,” as well as working with farmers to craft new potent and pest-resistant cultivars.
To fund the hemp repository, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer led a legislative charge to finalize the project through the 2019 federal omnibus spending bill. Schumer eventually secured $500,000 in federal cash to construct the seedbank.
“When it comes to kicking Upstate New York’s burgeoning industrial hemp industry into an even higher gear, the Industrial Hemp Germplasm Repository is just what the doctor ordered,” Senator Schumer said in a press release. “Not only will this facility act as the United States’ only industrial hemp seed bank, but it will also allow the world-class agricultural scientists at Cornell to help boost industrial hemp entrepreneurship.”
Schumer continued in the press release: “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 being able to grow industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity because I knew the potential this crop had to transform the Upstate New York economy. As work gets started at the Industrial Hemp Germplasm Repository, the seeds we have sown will soon be ready to harvest.”
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Hemp cultivation and transportation was legalized last year in the 2018 Farm Bill, and has since taken off with farmers in all corners of the country. With the help of the forthcoming Cornell seedbank, those farmers will be able to secure specific seeds for CBD production or any number of other industrial goals. In addition to distributing and breeding seeds, the Cornell AgriTech team will research the plant in intense detail.
“We are grateful to Senator Schumer for his hard work to secure this federal funding,” Kathryn J. Boor, the Dean of Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, said. “The hemp seed bank and the research that it will allow by our Cornell and USDA-ARS scientists will be vital resources for New York state farmers.”
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