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Did you know that in 1941, Henry Ford invented a plastic car that ran on hemp-derived fuel? This is just one of many uses of a miraculous plant used for over 8,000 years.
Unfortunately, the history of hemp and its many applications has been forgotten after the 1930’s marijuana scare, banning its production.
Luckily, due to years of activism, farming hemp is making a huge come back. And with it comes a major opportunity join one of the most profitable and revolutionary industries of the 21 century.
Read on to find out more about getting started in the hemp growing business of tomorrow.
Hemp’s Legal History
The 1937 Marijuana Tax Act preceded a large campaign to sway public opinion that led to the demise of hemp farming.
President Nixon’s classification of hemp as a schedule 1 controlled substance in 1970 made it completely illegal
In the decades that followed, hemp manufacturing outsourced to Canada and Europe. This made it a costly small market.
In the 1990’s, activism increased to open up the marijuana industry for medicinal purposes. But, it wasn’t until 2014 with the U.S. Farm Bill act that allowed farmers to research grow operations where states permitted.
Finally, in December 2018, an amendment to the bill removed hemp from the controlled substance act. Today, hemp can be grown legally, given state permit granting.
Benefits of Growing Hemp?
Growing hemp was a popular venture for many farmers before its ban and for good reason.
It is a vibrant plant that can be grown easily in many climates with little water and no need for pesticide treatment. It also naturally purifies the soil and the air as it is a carbon eater.
Since it is relatively easy to grow, it produces high yields and doesn’t use much man-labor. Most work is done through machinery.
What is Hemp Grown For?
The fibers of the hemp plant our extremely strong and versatile. It is also an eco-friendly plant that could and would take the place of many destructive materials such as plastic.
- Fiber- The fibers can be used for threads in clothing, textiles, twine, carpet, and more.
- Paper- Stalks make naturally acid-free, biodegradable paper using less material than trees.
- Oil- Plant-based biofuel extracted from the hemp seed and ethanol created from the pulp of the stalk makes a sustainable fuel source. This could also replace the use of oil-based plastic products.
- Protein- Hemp is a sustainable protein source rich in omega fatty acids that could replace soybean feed for animals and as a health supplement for people.
- Building- Hempcrete is an alternative to concrete that produces lightweight insulation that naturally repels insects.
- CBD Oil- Hemp oil is extracted for a range of health products used to treat pain, anxiety, depression, seizures, and even cancer.
The endless applications of the plant make growing industrial hemp a lucrative business with a network of potential distributors.
How is Hemp Farming Different Than Marijuana Growing?
Hemp and marijuana both come from the same species of the Cannabis Sativa plant. The main difference is the chemical makeup of cannabinoids like THC, CBD, and a hundred others.
Marijuana usually contains higher amounts of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), which produces the psychoactive high effect when smoked or ingested. Plants with over .3% THC are federally illegal and controlled by state cannabis laws.
Growing hemp for CBD (Cannabidiol) is legal when THC is kept out of the genetics. These plants are used for medicinal purposes as hemp oil extract.
A hemp factory used for cultivating CBD products may only focus on this one niche as it takes more time and labor to farm hemp for this purpose.
How Can You Start a Hemp Farm?
Although it is legal to grow hemp federally, if you want to know how to become a hemp farmer you must check with your state’s regulations.
States issue licenses/permits, track land use, test THC levels, certify seed distribution, and issue tax regulations. At least 46 states have begun the process of conducting legislation to regulate hemp production since the Farm Bill of 2018.
What Conditions and Materials are Needed to Grow Hemp?
Once you complete state formalities, it is easy to get started as a hemp farmer. If you already own a farm and equipment, common farming tools can be used or easily transformed for the job.
If you do not have land, then you will need to consider a large flat plot that can mass-produce hemp similar to wheat.
The hemp plant is annual, so it works well in climates far from the equator that has 4 distinct seasons. It likes to have warm days and cool nights, but only needs a good amount of water in the beginning stages.
Soil does not have to be very rich as hemp provides its own purification process. For this reason, it works well as a rotational crop and can be harvested quickly.
What Roadblocks are in Place?
Hemp farming is still in its infancy as farmers become educated on the procedures and benefits of the crop. There are a few challenges that will take time to overcome.
- State Permits- It is a waiting game in some states where legislation still has to be implemented.
- Seed Reliability and THC Levels- Finding reliable seeds that guarantee a THC level less than .3% is a challenge as crops will be destroyed if the plant does not pass this test.
- Acreage- Hemp needs large plots of land to supply the demand of hemp and to be productive. Therefore, soybean and other crop fields must make a transition to hemp.
- Banking and Insurance Compliance- Financial institutions must be supportive of the hemp industry before it can bloom. National agencies must understand the legal stance of hemp and not treat it like a dangerous enterprise to insure and finance.
The good news is that the demand for hemp is high, so once these challenges are solved, there will no limit to the profit and use of hemp.
Farming Hemp for the Future
Farming hemp is a sustainable solution to our energy, food, and textile needs. It can reduce carbon emissions, lower water demands, and reduce waste with biodegradable products.
If you’re interested in more innovative farming techniques then visit the technology section of our blog and search for farming.