A new report from VoteHemp shows that the acres of hemp crops have increased from 9,770 in 2016 to 23,343 acres in 2017, an increase of 138%. Colorado leads the nation in hemp acreage with 7,500 acres devoted to the crop, a 26% increase over last year’s 5,921 acres.
The Hemp Business Journal and VoteHemp believe that the total retail value of hemp products sold in the U.S. in 2016 was $688 million. They also project that those sales could come close to $1 billion in 2017 and then rise to $1.8 billion in 2020. So, there is big money at stake here.
It hasn’t been an easy road for hemp. While Section 7606 of the Farm Bill approved of hemp growing for research purposes, the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) has continued to insist that it is illegal and has attempted to obstruct interstate commerce of hemp and hempseed oil. The language in the farm bill had enough wiggle room, that many farmers sell the product beyond research purposes, which has led to the explosive growth in farming. State licenses have been issued to 1,424 farmers even though they continue to face logistical and legislative roadblocks. Many producers are still relying on imports from Canada and Italy to fulfill demand.
“We’ve seen hemp cultivation significantly expand in the U.S. in 2017, with over double the number of acres planted in hemp compared to last year and the addition of 4 more states with hemp pilot programs,” said Eric Steenstra, President of Vote Hemp. “The majority of states have implemented hemp farming laws, in clear support of this crop and its role in diversifying and making more sustainable our agricultural economy. It’s imperative that we pass the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of Congress so that we can grant farmers full federally legal rights to commercially cultivate hemp to supply the growing global market for hemp products.”
According to the Vote Hemp group, thirty-three states have defined industrial hemp as distinct and removed barriers to its production. These states are able to take immediate advantage of the industrial hemp research and pilot program provision, Section 7606 of the Farm Bill: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.