The 2018 Farm Bill introduced major changes to the world of hemp. Hemp-derived products like CBD (but not THC) are no longer lumped into the Controlled Substances Act. Furthermore, hemp farmers now receive the same protections (e.g., insurance) as any other farmer would. Industrial hemp cultivation is now legal and has given a brave new world for hemp farmers.
Famers in Legal States Are Thrilled
An important caveat to the 2018 Farm Bill is that states must regulate and license production of industrial hemp. According to the National Conferences of State Legislatures, 41 states have implemented industrial hemp programs. Some states that are not on board include Texas, Ohio, Georgia, and South Dakota.
However, in states with industrial hemp programs, applications to cultivate hemp have soared. Wisconsin, for example, was flooded with applications in 2018. Farmers in Wyoming are optimistic and even lobbied for the legislative changes; however, the expensive machinery required to test for THC has delayed operations. In Illinois, farmers who have been growing hemp in secret are relieved and delighted. Farmers in Kentucky planted roughly 7,000 acres of hemp in 2018, and they welcome legalization with open arms. They are especially excited about crop insurance.
The 2018 Farm Bill symbolizes legitimacy and opportunity. Different states have unique regulations, however. Several states, for example, require growers to use state-certified seeds. Other states, such as South Carolina, do not restrict growers with this type of regulation. Most states require administrative and licensure fees intended to fund oversight programs, but farmers are happy to pay for legitimacy.
Entrepreneurs Turned Farmers
Beyond the existing farmers who are excited to adopt rules and regulations for legal hemp, there are some entrepreneurs who are actually becoming farmers in order to take advantage of the Farm Bill. Thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, many entrepreneurs now see hemp as a new cash crop. In fact, CNBC estimates a $20 billion dollar hemp boom through the year 2022. Not only are farmers welcoming the 2018 Farm Bill, but entrepreneurs are becoming farmers to cash in on the new legislation.
The 2018 Farm Bill opened the flood gates for states to regulate legal hemp farm operations, but not all states were willing to join. However, farmers in states with viable programs are optimistic and excited. In fact, non-farmers are hopping on the bandwagon to legally cultivate and market diverse hemp products. It’s become less of an adjustment and more of a welcome opportunity.