How Much Industrial Hemp Is Grown In The US?

About 146,000 acres of industrial hemp were cultivated in the US in 2019, which is almost 100 times more than in 2014.

The Agricultural act of 2018 got the ball rolling by legalizing hemp at a federal level. Right now, industrial hemp is among the fastest-growing crops in the US. 

Industrial hemp is a type of Cannabis sativa which contains minimal amounts of the psychoactive compound known as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Legal hemp in the US must contain less than 0.3% THC. 

Before 2015, it was completely illegal to grow industrial hemp in the U.S., as it was classified as a controlled substance. This is because of its close association with marijuana, which is Cannabis sativa that contains high amounts of THC. 

The Agricultural Act of 2014 made it possible for the state to cultivate hemp for research purposes. As a result, in 2016, 1,500 acres of hemp were cultivated, and in 2019 the figure was at a hundred-fold increase. These estimates are from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Other figures from the FDA indicate that 27 portions of 424 acres of land were farming industrial hemp in 2018. The figure rose to 128 portions of 320 acres of land by the beginning of 2019. Altogether, 25,713 acres were cultivated in 2017, which is up from 9,770 acres in 2016.

In 2018, eighteen states in the U.S. cultivated hemp. The following year, 37 states cultivated hemp and 20 states cultivated over 1,000 acres. The state of Montana had the largest acreage, followed by Colorado. These states have relatively low humidity levels, which makes them more ideal growing zones from industrial hemp.

Remember that The Agricultural Act of 2014 limited the cultivation of industrial hemp to hemp research programs. This was changed by the Agricultural Act of 2018, which allows regular farmers to grow the crop for commercial use.

Industrial hemp has many applications that make hemp farming a very lucrative venture. Farmers are attracted by the versatility of the crop, and the numerous uses for its fiber, seed, and oil. It is also a good environmental crop that can be used as a cover crop to enhance soil health. 

As of 2019, the USDA has allowed industrial hemp to be cultivated on 511,442 acres of land. This is a 455% increase from what was allowed in the previous year. That being said, not all land that is allowed for hemp cultivation gets utilized. Out of the 511,442 acres that were allowed in 2019, only 146,000 acres were used. 

So far, 46 states have enacted hemp friendly laws that will support hemp farming in the U.S. Idaho, Mississippi, New Hampshire and South Dakota have yet to come on board. 

In 2019, 16,877 state licenses were sent to farmers to allow them to cultivate hemp for research and commercial use. Later this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which is the federal regulator of industrial hemp, is expected to unveil policies that will allow farmers to grow hemp on an even larger commercial scale.

Recently, hemp farmers were granted inclusion in federal crop insurance, which is bound to compel risk-averse farmers to join the industry. Another positive development has been the federal approval of 10 pesticides for industrial hemp use. These will give more farmers confidence to try out industrial hemp farming without the fear of losing crops to pests. 

Additionally, the Federal Credit Union Administration has allowed credit unions to provide funding for hemp farmers. Lastly, each state will release laws that apply to hemp farming within their respective jurisdictions. 

Is Industrial Hemp Farming A Profitable Venture?

Industrial hemp farming can be a very profitable venture if it is well planned and executed. 

All the different parts of industrial hemp can be put to use, including the leftovers. The seeds of the plants can be used to provide nourishment in protein form, and are a rich source of heart-healthy oil. The stalks are a source of fiber and biomass, while the flowers are a source of cannabinoids which have therapeutic significance.