Hemp growers in the U.S. fear they are being stigmatized as ‘marijuana growers’ as new research demonstrates the massive potential of the industry.
The U.S. hemp industry has got off to a flying start following the passing of last December’s Farm Bill with 20,000 cultivation licences issued, says Whitney Economics.
Its report: ‘The Field of Dreams: An Economic Survey of the United States Hemp Cultivation Industry’, says the industry has already created 150,000 jobs. It says hemp is set to become the third largest agricultural crop in the United States by revenue, second only to corn and soy.
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Major U.S. Cash Crop
And, goes on to say that if hemp supply chain issues are resolved it could generate revenues of around $11.3 billion – around ‘6% of the total value of the entire U.S. cash crops’.
The rapid growth of the industry has prompted the formation of The Hemp Federation of America (HFA) in October. The goal of the association is to ‘foster a sustainable market for industrial hemp grown in the U.S. for food, fuel and fiber use and other products’.
Its members gathered in Washington recently to visit Capitol Hill and speak to Department of Agriculture officials and push for policies that support the industry. HFA has been founded by Chris Thorne, a former aide to ex-Senator Kent Conrad, and a partner at Independent Public Affairs, and Scott Graves, a former aide to Republican Senator Mike Conaway and a partner at Williams & Jensen.
One of its members Derek Azevedo, executive vice president at Bowles Farming Company in California, told reporters that: “Every facet of this industry is new and underdeveloped.”
Not Marijuana Farming
He identified pressing issues that need addressing which included; immigration, financial services, transportation and regulations. Other farmers in the federation spoke about how the cannabis industry can be confused with the hemp industry.
Mike Gaynier, principal at Weather Management Solutions in Michigan, said: “What’s interesting and still problematic is the public perception still is, if you’re raising hemp, you’re raising marijuana. This is not marijuana, this is different crop.”
Other key finding from the Whitney Economic survey include:
- 34 states had issued licenses with somewhere between 450,000 and 500,000 acreage under cultivation.
- The average acres per hemp farm in the US is 27.26 acres, with 75% of farms less than 20 acres.
- Supply chain issues are impacting the industry resulting in roughly only one-third of licensed acres coming to market.
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