U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced work will comment on the nation’s only Industrial Hemp Germplasm Repository (IHGR), located at Cornell University, according to a press release. This program will be rebuilt with an initial $500,000 investment by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Agricultural Research Service (ARS) at the Plant Genetic Resources Unit (PGRU) located at Cornell AgriTech in Geneva.
Schumer fought hard to secure the funding for the 2019 Fiscal Year Omnibus spending package. In 2018, when Schumer’s Hemp Farming Act of 2018, which was a part of the 2018 Farm Bill, created a pathway for the commercial cultivation of industrial hemp. The ARS funding for the IHGR is aimed at re-establishing a national public hemp seed bank which will be overseen by a curator with characterizing, maintaining and distributing seeds. Schumer said the IHGR will be a resource to the rapidly expanding hemp industry in Upstate, New York.
“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,” said Senator Schumer. “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. 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.”
Kathryn J. Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, is more than grateful for the funding and knows the seed bank and research will become vital resources for farmers throughout the state. Schumer explained that there was a national industrial hemp germplasm program, or seed bank, but it was destroyed along with all of the industrial hemp seeds as the crop was designated a Schedule 1 controlled substance. The $500,000 funding influx from the ARS funding is needed to reestablish the program and rebuild the lost collection of seeds.
A new collection of crops is currently being assembled and characterized to breed new cultivars and study the genetics and genomics of the plants. The public germplasm repositories maintained by ARS, such as the new IHGR are vital resources for their corresponding agricultural industries. Researchers at Cornell AgriTech have collaborated with ARS germplasm curators in the PGRU, specifically among the tomato, grape, cherry, apple, and Brassica crops.