North Dakota State University gets half of needed funds for hemp research

May 26, 2009
Industrial hemp growing in mid-summer in Saskatchewan. The beginnings of North Dakotans being able to grow hemp varieties that grow well in North Dakota is getting under way with the committal of APUC funding to building a security fence at NDSU where varieties will be developed.

North Dakota State University needs to find another sponsor before it can build a security facility to proceed with its hemp seed research.

Half of the funding requested for the security system was approved May 14 at the North Dakota Agricultural Products Utilization Commission (APUC) quarterly meeting in Bismarck, N.D.

NDSU asked for $80,000 and received $40,000 from the commission.

Earlier, D.C. Coston, vice-president for Agriculture and University Extension at NDSU, estimated the cost of the facility at around $80,000 to $90,000 to meet the Drug Enforcement Administration requirements.

John Schneider, executive director of APUC, said the commission felt the other half should be raised as a matching grant.

This is the third time NDSU has requested funds to build a security facility to begin hemp research. It was fully approved in 2003, but NDSU continued to request extensions because it had not received a memorandum of understanding from DEA, Schneider said.

“We don’t want funds out there not being used when other projects could be using them,” he said. Finally, the funds were returned.

NDSU again requested funds last year but didn’t have the memorandum in place so it was turned down by the commission, Schneider said.

“There still was no guarantee,” he said. “But the university did have the DEA memorandum now so the commission was willing to go ahead and fund half the project, with the understanding that the other half would come from matching funds.”

APUC is a N.D. Department of Commerce agricultural grant program funded through the state Legislature’s general fund and a 1 cent off-road gas tax refund. Schneider said the 1 cent refund comes from farmers who request a refund from the off-road fuel tax.

“They have to request the refund first. Then a certain percentage of that refund goes to fund various programs including APUC,” Schneider said.

He said this quarter’s APUC meeting was “overall, a good one.” The commission had some difficult funding decisions this quarter, particularly since it is the end of the budget year, he said.

Projects are funded based on which ones are good investments and are the best value-added projects using agriculture commodities, he said.

The next applications for APUC funds must be in to the Department of Commerce by July 1 for consideration in the next round of funding. Source.

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