U.S. farmers and ranchers are interested in growing and using hemp.
A recent Farm Journal survey of 950 farmers and ranchers across the United States found that although almost none of them currently grow any form of cannabis, about half would consider doing so – and many would consider using it.
The survey sought to understand perceptions of growing and using cannabis and comes on the heels of passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp – defined as cannabis with no more than 0.3% THC content.
Data from advocacy group Vote Hemp show that before the Farm Bill, U.S. farmers were engaging in state-run industrial hemp pilot programs, with more than 78,000 acres across 24 states in 2018, three times the amount of hemp grown in 2017.
Given hemp’s status after the Farm Bill, Hemp Industry Daily estimates that hemp-derived CBD retail sales will reach $900 million to $1.1 billion in 2019.
The Farm Journal survey asked respondents to provide their level of agreement with statements relating to whether they believe farmers should grow various forms of cannabis – ranging from industrial hemp to high-CBD, low-THC medical cannabis – and whether they would be willing to use these forms of cannabis themselves.
Respondents gave their highest level of agreement to statements about growing and using hemp for industrial purposes, with 83% in agreement with the statement that farmers should be involved in growing cannabis for industrial hemp and 71% agreeing they would grow industrial hemp themselves.
Interest in growing and using hemp for CBD for medical purposes was strong as well – 72% agreed with a statement that farmers should be involved in growing high-CBD, low-THC for medical purposes and 61% agreed they would use high-CBD, low-THC for medical purposes themselves.
Respondents showed less enthusiasm for using cannabis products as animal feed.
Even so, 60% of respondents agreed that farmers should grow cannabis for animal feed and 48% agreed they would use cannabis for animal feed themselves.
In addition to demonstrating that U.S. farmers and ranchers are interested in serving as a supply source for hemp, the survey showed that a proportion of this population may be willing to generate demand for hemp products.
Here’s what else you need to know about the situation:
- Respondents represented older generations, with 80% indicating they were 55 or older – in line with demographic trends in conventional agriculture. Seventy-six percent were male.
- Survey respondents were asked questions relating to high-THC medical and recreational marijuana as well. Those results can be found here.
- For more information about the impacts of the 2018 Farm Bill, download Hemp Industry Daily’s free Farm Bill Special Report that outlines changes in regulations and provides retail sales estimates for hemp and CBD.
- The March issue of Marijuana Business Magazine takes an in-depth look at challenges and opportunities facing hemp producers and entrepreneurs operating in this new frontier.
Maggie Cowee can be reached at [email protected]
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