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'How-to' hemp series from USDA and Cornell University speaks to startup dreamers

Updated: Jan 29, 2022


The U.S. Department of Agriculture has partnered with Cornell University to offer a webinar series for people in — or who wish to join — the hemp industry.


Topics include:

  • indoor and outdoor cultivation

  • processing

  • the economics of hemp farming

  • the chemistry behind extraction

  • the endocannabinoid system

  • hemp genetics

  • hemp food science


Each lecture is given by an expert in the field. The first lecture, held January 26, covered outdoor cultivation with Jeff Kostuik, director of Hemp Genetics International.


You can catch this and any other missed recordings on the Cornell SIPS YouTube Channel. But attending live offers audience members a chance to connect with leaders in the hemp research community.

This was one of the main reasons for organizing the online classes, according to a press release from the USDA.


Through the sessions, the agency hopes to educate people who are interested in starting a hemp-related business or deepen training for those already in the industry. But they also hope to foster connections — especially between industry experts and people from underserved communities.

Zachary Stansell, a geneticist and acting “hemp curator” at the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS), said it’s the ARS’s job to solve agricultural challenges with broad impacts across the country. Ensuring inclusivity in hemp production falls within his purview.


“Hemp is rapidly emerging as a critical multi-use and economically significant crop, Stansell said, “so this hemp seminar series is designed to increase the diversity, equity, and inclusivity of ARS' mission while providing hemp-specific education, training, and networking opportunities to historically underserved communities.”

“Training and educating new scientists from many different backgrounds is critical in order to achieve the most cutting-edge solutions to an array of issues producers face — from climate change to economic viability.”

— Cornell University Crop Specialist Daniela Vergara, who will lecture April 20


In developing a more welcoming and inclusive environment the research team also hopes to attract diverse voices to industry-wide conversations.


“Training and educating new scientists from many different backgrounds is critical in order to achieve the most cutting-edge solutions to an array of issues producers face — from climate change to economic viability," said Cornell University Crop Specialist Daniela Vergara, who will lecture April 20 as part of the series.


Series Details

Lectures will be given by various hemp research experts from the hemp industry, research labs and academia. (In keeping with the program’s mission, it’s not just old white dudes at the podium.) The webinars are scheduled for every other Wednesday from 2 pm – 3 pm EST and include an interactive Q&A session.

  • Jan. 26th - Outdoor Cultivation with Jeff Kostuik, director of Hemp Genetics International

  • Feb. 9 - Indoor Cultivation with Dr. Bruce Bugbee, professor of environmental plant physiology

  • Feb. 23 - Hemp Processing Systems with Dr. Heather Grab, senior lecturer at Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

  • March 9 - Extraction Chemistry/Facility Design with Alisia Ratliff, chemist and cannabis industry executive

  • March 23 - The Endocannabinoid System with Ethan Russo, neurologist and psychopharmacology researcher

  • April 6 - Hemp Food Science with Hunter Friedland, founder of cannabinoid-ingredient-maker Cirona Labs.

  • April 20 - Hemp Diversity/Genetics with Dr. Daniela Vergara, Cornell University crop specialist

  • May 4 - Economics of Hemp Production with Dr. Tyler Mark, assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Kentucky

Registration is required to attend live.

Replays are available on Cornell SIPS YouTube Channel.

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