Home Articles Industrial Hemp: The New Cash Crop Opportunity for US Farmers

Industrial Hemp: The New Cash Crop Opportunity for US Farmers

hemp

While there was a lot of buzz about the legalization of medical marijuana, the focus was shifted from the state and federal level to allow the cultivation and interstate trading of industrial hemp.

While the battle for the legalization has the power to overshadow this cousin plant,  industrial hemp is probably the best chance for farmers around North America as an alternative crop, which could offer them financial relief.

The Cousin Plants

As they’re both coming from cannabis sativa plant, hemp and marijuana are cousins. They have many visual similarities and are often confused, which is the main reason why industrial hemp has been a dormant industry for so long.

But the fact is that they’re different strains of the plant, and industrial hemp doesn’t produce the ʽhighʼ effect since it contains less than 0.3% THC. It is a strain of cannabis used to make compostable plastic, cosmetics, paper, rope, fabric, and much more. As a stalky and fibrous plant, it’s perfect for converting to textiles.

Faith Based Events

But the biggest part of its profitability lies in CBD oil, which has become a popular treatment for almost everything, from heart disease to acne. Of course, CBD oil can also be made out of marijuana, but there are a couple of reasons why hemp is preferred as a source.

Long History

Through history, hemp was already a hugely important crop due to the fact it is able to grow easily in many different conditions and environments, and the fact that it has very broad uses. It was widely used for naval cordage in the colonial days. In fact, there was a famous Hemp for Victory program launched during World War II after the Philippines fell to the Japanese and the U.S. lost its major source of cordage.

So farmers were encouraged to grow hemp, but right after the war has concluded, hemp literally disappeared from the agricultural landscape all over the country. The reason was simple – the vilification of marijuana and hemp’s close resemblance to it has made farmers abandon this crop.

The Ressurection of Opportunity

The states again gained the possibility to research the viability of hemp as an agricultural crop through the 2014 Farm Bill. This document has taken hemp off the controlled substance list on a federal level and permitted interstate commerce throughout the country. Having in mind that the agricultural landscape of North America rapidly evolves, creating numerous challenges for farmers  – Chinese involvement is soybean battle, climate change, flagging industries such as dairy and tobacco – a possibility of a more sustainable domestic crop is much needed.

Two Approaches

When it comes to farming industrial hemp, there are two types of approaches. One is a pretty traditional row-crop style of farming, with a focus on a variety of products hemp is able to provide. Its seeds can be harvested like grain and pressed into oil for consumption or used as food. Its strong fiber can be used for rope, even to strengthen structural components. This is the route many farmers are taking since it’s traditional and can pay off due to the mentioned variety.

But the real gold rush lies in the other approach designed to grow hemp with a high cannabidiol content, with a goal to produce CBD products.  This approach is primarily done indoors so that the buds, which contain the highest percentage of CBD, don’t get fertilized. The point is to prioritize the plant’s energy use for seed production and not flower production. Of course, long-term strategy is also to try to get the flowers to produce CBD.

Hemp’s value as a farm crop is undeniable – in 2018 hemp was cultivated on 77,000 acres across the nation. Farm Bill guarantees that that number will grow to expand. In 2018 the sales have reached $1.1 billion and the projections are that they’ll reach $1.9 billion by 2020.

Talking in yields of food-grade hemp, that’s $750 per acre, which is a profit that blows all other crops such as wheat and corn out of the water. Of course, those prices won’t last forever, but while demand is still outpacing supply industrial hemp is certainly the best cash crop opportunity there is.