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Indigenous-owned Company Canndigenous Awarded USDA Grant to Develop Climate-Friendly Hemp

Canndigenous is the only tribal-member owned partner to receive funding from USDA’s Climate-Smart Commodities program

Cambridge, Wis., Sept. 28, 2022 — Wisconsin-based hemp company Canndigenous, in partnership with Iconoclast Industries and several university and business partners, is awarded a $15 million grant for its “Industrial Hemp for Fiber and Grain” project by the USDA’s Climate-Smart Commodities program to fund the research and development of hemp as a climate-smart commodity.

The $15 million grant for the “Industrial Hemp for Fiber and Grain” project, led by Iconoclast Industries, will be used to support the expansion of climate-smart markets by providing open-access data and training on how to monetize climate-smart practices through a digital marketplace pilot. The project will also establish an inclusive workforce to engage with and financially support underserved producers as they learn the climate-smart practices in Florida, New York, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

"The USDA moves the needle in the right direction by investing in climate-smart consumable products and incentivizing businesses like Canndigenous to raise the bar,” said Canndigenous founder and member of the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians Rob Pero, praising the USDA. “We are committed to bringing the industry forward and making ambitious contributions to decarbon our world.”

Canndigenous is the only tribal-member owned partner funded under the USDA’s Climate-Smart Commodities program to date. Pero also owns Wisconsin-based marketing and consulting firm Perodigm Media, is a co-founder of the Indigenous Business Group, and is the founder and CEO of the Indigenous Cannabis Industry Association, a national trade organization founded in 2022 to support Indigenous interests in the emerging cannabis industry.

Chief Operating Officer and Executive Director of the Indigenous Cannabis Industry Association Mary Jane Oatman (Nez Perce) applauded Pero and Canndigenous for elevating the research opportunities for other tribes by participating in the climate-smart data project as a pilot for Indian Country. “Rob is a tribal innovator. Sometimes it takes an individual tribal member to take that first big step to show Tribal leaders that development in cannabis is safe and legitimate, with a bright outlook for federal research funding.”

Other partners joining Iconoclast Industries and Canndigenous for the USDA-funded “Industrial Hemp for Fiber and Grain” project include: Cedar Meadow Farm LLC, University of Florida, University of Georgia, Stockton University, The Shaffer Group, Texas A&M University, Pecan Street Inc, CultivateAI, Florida Department of Agriculture, Green Ocean Sciences, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Ganjanesh Bioscience, INDHemp, Global Hemp Association, 357 Hemp Logistics, SB Friedman Development Advisors, M4MM, EntreVation LLC, Stillman College, and Legacy Farms Group.

In addition to the “Industrial Hemp for Fiber and Grain” project, the USDA is investing up to $2.8 billion in 70 selected projects under the first Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities funding pool.

For more information on Indigenous Cannabis Industry Association membership or support, visit


About Canndigenous

As the first independent Native American-owned hemp farm and CBD retailer in Wisconsin, Canndigenous focuses on growing local, high-quality CBD and providing wellness products with a commitment to natural, organic, and sustainable practices. All of Canndigenous’ hemp plants are rooted around tenets of love for family, support for community, respect for the natural world, and a commitment to doing everything, as the Ojibwe say, “in a good way.” Learn more about Canndigenous at

About Indigenous Cannabis Industry Association

The Indigenous Cannabis Industry Association exists to promote the exploration, development, and advancement of the cannabis industry for the benefit of all Indigenous communities. ICIA is dedicated to the advocacy and empowerment of our Indigenous cannabis businesses, influencers, and aspiring entrepreneurs along with being a conduit of connection and data for Indigenous Nations as we push towards a vision of an equitable, just, and sustainable Indigenous cannabis economy.



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