Legalized hemp cultivation may be just around the corner, and that’s driving optimism for some in the farm economy.
But experts warn it will take some time for the crop to make a significant impact.
“You talk to some folks and they think this is the next miracle crop,” Zack Clark, government relations director for National Farmers Union, told Politico. “It’s like any sort of new industry, it will certainly go in fits and starts.”
Legislation advocated by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, would make it fully legal for farmers to grow industrial hemp. something that is currently limited to experimental programs in more than a dozen states. That legislation is part of the massive Farm Bill passed by the Senate. The House version of the Farm Bill does not include such legislation; but with McConnell and other hemp cultivation advocates on the conference committee putting together a final bill, the legislation has a solid chance of passing.
Allowing full-scale cultivation comes at a great time. The popularity of CBD is exploding, and demand is likely to develop further for other uses, from textiles to feed stock for biofuel and beyond.
According to Politico:
“Annie Rouse, co-founder of third-party CBD retailer Anavii Market, said she’s seen 40 new fiber, grain and CBD processors rise up in Kentucky since farmers in the state started growing hemp under a pilot program authorized in the 2014 farm bill.
“Despite this flurry of growth, Rouse, who studied the Canadian hemp market as a Fulbright Scholar in 2013, said that while she believes CBD will be so widespread in a decade that it could be featured in products like Coca-Cola, fiber and grain production will likely lag behind.
“‘With things like fiber, the markets need to develop a lot more, there needs to be much more investment into those operations because they’re so capital intensive,’ she said.”