US: Total hemp farming acreage shrinks for the first time

The approval of The Farm Bill in 2014, allowing the implementation of hemp pilot programmes by individual states, was the trigger for a hemp resurgence in the US, a crop which had been effectively outlawed for the previous 40 years. Successive legislative reforms in 2018 differentiated cannabis, a controlled substance, from hemp, an industrial commodity with under 0.3% THC. The reform allowed interstate commerce, further bolstering the increase in hemp cultivation.

Today only Idaho is left to legalise hemp farming even if other states are still quite restrictive in their approaches. Unlike France or Canada, where the industrial uses of hemp seeds or stalk represent a well-established sector, a wide majority of harvested hemp in the US is used as biomass for further extraction of CBD and other cannabinoids.

While prices have dropped for finished consumer goods, the falling price of raw materials coupled with the high cost of extraction and storage has meant that cultivators that are not vertically integrated are struggling, and risk losing crops to rot or selling products for less than market value. Even if hemp remains more profitable per acre in comparison to alternative crops, it is no longer the lucrative cash crop that many farmers thought it to be 24 months ago.


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