Hemp’s History in the U.S.
Hemp, once a widely used industrial material, has mostly been torn away from farmers across the world in stigmatization against cannabis. The United States once had seen a strong hemp presence across its farms before the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act set the end of industrial hemp in motion. The bill complicated the process for farmers to legally grow hemp and was a massive step towards the regulation and eventual end of hemp production in the United States.
World War II brought about a resurgence of hemp growing in the U.S. as the federal government once again pushed farmers to grow hemp. However, this ended once the war effort was over. Hemp production in the U.S. would then suffer another blow. This would not be the final legislative jab taken at hemp. The United States’ war on drugs enacted new legislation that effectively ended any hope of hemp being seen as a legitimate product.
American Hemp in the 21st Century
Cannabis being listed as a schedule 1 drug seemingly slammed the door shut on industrial hemp production in the U.S. until early 2014. The 2014 Farm Bill, under section 7606, created a distinct legal separation between marijuana and industrial hemp. It also granted certain entities such as state-level departments of agriculture the ability to cultivate and research hemp in feasibility studies. It goes without saying that this was a massive step for industrial hemp production in the United States. However, strict regulations still stopped the benefit from being widespread.
The 2018 Farm Bill took this effort another step as it further extends this protection of hemp research. In addition, it fully legalized the growth and sale of hemp as a separate item from marijuana. Hemp’s classification as a schedule 1 drug was changed, and it regained its rightful place as an agricultural commodity.
Many of the markets that were once occupied by hemp are now firmly controlled by other commodities. Still, hemp can regain its place in American agriculture in new ways, as well. The uses for hemp now are even more multiple than when the world originally cast its judgment on the plant. The opportunities are abundant for farmers who choose to embrace this new legislation.
How Hemp Can Save American Farmers
The 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills have set the stage for an incredible relief effort for American farmers. American farmers are currently struggling with the economic climate of their industry in a multitude of ways. These bills will provide significant relief for farmers across America in a few different avenues. Specifically, hemp now fits both the political and actual climate of the United States.
Arid Climates in The U.S.
The climate of areas such as the American southwest makes hemp a prime candidate for growing in America. This is not because of its exceptional conditions, but because of the difficulties that other crops can have in the absence of sufficient rainfall. Hemp requires much less water than other field crops and would provide relief for economically stressed farmers.
Other field crops require much more space for the same yield, yet hemp still comes out on top in terms of water consumption and usable soil conditions. While not ideal, hemp can grow in a variety of situations that would not facilitate growing other crops. This means farmers can use their preferred land for more picky roots, and hemp can grow wherever it can find space.
An Established Market
Hemp is valued at a much higher dollar amount than many of America’s most cultivated crops. An acre of hemp could net as much as over ten times the money that an acre of corn could. The difference is not subtle at all; farmers could raise their income with the same allotment of space by switching to growing hemp.
The demand for hemp is exceptionally high as well; there are too many uses to list them all. One particular market that has already developed into a huge industry is CBD products. CBD has well-documented effects on a variety of health issues, and its popularity is sure to increase steadily. The demand is only expected to grow as the stigma against hemp fades away across the world.
Presently in 2019, the CBD market accounts for over 800 million dollars of total sales. This is over double the sales from 2017 when the total consumption was under 400 million dollars. There is no end in sight to this massive upward trajectory; CBD sales are expected to increase to nearly two billion dollars in 2022.
Competition With Imported Goods
Hemp is just one way that American farmers have been at odds with China. Other crops such as wheat or corn have been a point of contention between the two sides as the tariffs continue between China and the United States. American farmers are economically stressed in large part because of America’s reliance on imported goods, and bringing hemp production back to the U.S. should mitigate this effect.
America is now decreasing its imports of hemp from countries like China and Canada specifically, so the change is already underway as intended. If farmers in America are going to face increasing difficulties, then they should at least be able to grow the wonderful, profitable plant that hemp is.
Hemp is now just one less area where imports are creating financial problems for American farmers. Of course, this is different as hemp production had long been absent in any legal form in the U.S. for a long time. The critical part is the emergence of an agricultural commodity that can potentially save American farmers.
Continued Growth and Support
The economic growth of hemp as a consumer product is expected to continue skyrocketing. American farmers would do well to embrace this new, overflowing market that will only grow more. New ways to use and profit from hemp will undoubtedly become available as research continues. The future of hemp is very bright, and it’s time to hop on the bandwagon for American farmers.
It is surprising to many that the U.S. received this seemingly pro-marijuana legislation despite a government that refuses to change the scheduling of its psychoactive counterpart. However, the numerous benefits of hemp are becoming impossible to ignore. It is undeniable at this point that hemp would positively change the landscape, both economically and environmentally, of our world.
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