Sen. Schumer said work will begin soon at Cornell AgriTech, thanks to an initial $500K federal investment

GENEVA — Work will begin soon at the nation’s only industrial hemp seed bank at Cornell AgriTech, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, announced recently.

The Industrial Hemp Germplasm Repository will be rebuilt with an initial $500,000 investment by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service at the AgriTech’s Plant Genetic Resources Unit in Geneva.

Schumer said he fought “tooth and nail” to secure this funding in the 2019 omnibus spending package. Additionally, Schumer’s legislation — the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, which was signed into law as part of the 2018 Farm Bill — created a permissible pathway for the commercial cultivation of industrial hemp, paving the way for projects like the Industrial Hemp Germplasm Repository to take root, Schumer said.

The funding is targeted toward re-establishing a national public industrial hemp seed bank overseen by a curator charged with characterizing, maintaining and distributing seeds. Schumer said the Industrial Hemp Germplasm Repository will be an invaluable resource to the rapidly expanding upstate industrial hemp industry, in that it will help breeders and geneticists develop new cultivars, while also helping to identify genes for pest and disease resistance.

Industrial hemp has the potential to transform the upstate New York economy and kick the industry into an even higher gear, Schumer said in a prepared statement.

“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 said in the statement.

While there was previously a national industrial hemp germplasm program, or seed bank, it was destroyed along with all of the industrial hemp seeds in the collection when the crop was designated a Schedule 1 controlled substance, Schumer said.

Industrial hemp is a type of cannabis plant that is grown largely for industrial uses, but it can also be used for food, oil, and cosmetic products.

There’s an app for this challenge

Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, will be hosting the Congressional App Challenge.

The CAC is a competition for students in middle and high school that accepts computer programs, or apps, written in any programming language, for any platform such as desktop/PC, web, mobile, raspberry Pi, etc.

"We are excited to participate in this year's competition for the first time in our office," Reed said in a prepared statement. "We understand and care about the importance of STEM education and providing the tools to have a developed workforce. We have seen first hand the impact teachers have on students who want to explore this field, and we want to give students yet another opportunity to put their skills on display on the national stage.”

The challenge’s submission portal is now open.

Students are encouraged to register online by Sept. 10. All apps need to be submitted by Nov. 1. The competition is open to all students who meet the eligibility requirements, regardless of coding experience.

Winners will be selected by panels of judges drawn from the local community. Their apps are eligible to be featured on display in the U.S. Capitol building, on and on the Congressional App Challenge website.

The CAC was created because Congress recognized STEM and computer-based skills are essential for economic growth and innovation and that the U.S. has been falling behind on these fronts. For further information about the Congressional App Challenge, please contact Molly Safreed at or 607-654-7566.

Mobile office hours

State Sen. Pam Helming, R-Canandaigua, is taking to the road for a series of mobile office hours for the summer and fall.

Mobile office hours will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. on the following dates and at locations in the 54th District: Tuesday, Aug. 13, at the Webster Public Library, 980 Ridge Road; Wednesday, Aug. 28, at Sterling Town Hall, 1290 State Route 104A; Wednesday, Sept. 18, at Erie Shore Landing Café, 50 East Ave., Newark; Wednesday, Sept. 25, at Fayette Town Hall, 1439 Yellow Tavern Road, Waterloo; Wednesday, Oct. 23, at Lansing Town Hall, 29 Auburn Road, Lansing; and 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13, at the Webster Fire Department, 35 South Ave.

The mobile office hours will be held in addition to regular office hours at Helming’s district office in Geneva and satellite office in Lyons.

Hours at the Geneva office are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at 425 Exchange St. The phone number is 315-568-9816.

The satellite office hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. the second Thursday of the month in the Wayne County Courthouse, 26 Church St., Room 207, Lyons. The number is 315-946-6380.