Votehemp.com surveyed state agricultural departments and found U.S. farmers are licensed to grow over 500-thousand acres of hemp this year. That’s a 455% increase over 2018. Thirteen states made changes to their hemp laws after the Farm Bill passed. For farmers, growing hemp could be a cash crop. They can sell high-quality hemp for $35-$45 a pound versus selling a vegetable like kale for a dollar a pound. Hemp reaps nearly $8,000 per acre versus only $600 for an acre of corn. There is a trade-off. High-quality hemp seeds that contain less than .3% THC are pricier than veggie seeds. Farmers may shell out a dollar or two for a single seed!
Hemp is good for the land, too. It prevents erosion and mudslides while leaching radioactivity from the soil. It grows well without pesticides—another excellent benefit for soil and water runoff. Hemp is water-efficient, requiring only half the water as corn and its fast-growing. It’s also a more sustainable crop than marijuana. While they are both a part of the cannabis family, hemp has low THC, grows with minimal care, and can adapt to grow successfully in most climates while marijuana requires a carefully controlled atmosphere.
More than CBD
With more American farmers growing certified organic hemp, this could lead to increased research on best uses, growing practices, and processing for hemp and CBD. Humans have been experimenting with hemp for Millenia using it for rope, clothing, and fuel. Now, you can find hemp in diapers, shoes, denim, cardboard, packaging, canvas, carpet, molded plastics, paints, printer inks, food supplements, and body care products. Hemp is used in over 25,000 products globally! Each of these products provides farmers with more avenues for selling a sustainable, domestic crop that could keep farms growing.
The Dirt on Hemp Farming
Farmers need to do more than get a license and start planting seeds. Hemp producers are subject to FDA regulations and need to ensure they are growing and producing crops safely. States are required to have a procedure for testing hemp crops and performing annual inspections of farms. They need to have a program in place to dispose of any crops that are grown in violation of the law and enforcement procedures in place.
Farmers are not the only industry benefitting from the Farm Bill. Votehemp.com says hemp processing is expanding in response to the increase in crops. Processing takes the raw hemp and converts it into useful materials for consumers. States that license processors say they’ve seen a rise of over 400% of companies looking to get into the processing business. This means more jobs in rural farming communities.
From giving farmers new avenues to creating jobs and helping the environment, the growing hemp industry is showing its good for business.