Hemp Crop Outlook
The 2018 Farm Bill laid the soil for growing hemp, giving farmers the chance to explore this emerging market.
Although hemp has been around for a while, it's getting new life with the lifting of the federal prohibition against growing the crop commercially.
Eric Eriksmoen, a research agronomist, says hemp has big market potential and many uses, but it's still not clear what the market will look like.
For farmers who have been struggling, especially in the midst of the trade war with China, Eriksmoen says hemp could be used to stem some of their losses.
"They're looking at it as another crop to utilize and to diversify and limit some of their risk," he explains. "So it has some opportunities."
Hemp is a diverse crop with a variety of uses, but the compound in hemp known as CBD, which has potential pharmaceutical uses, will likely be the largest market. It was worth $40 million in 2018, but industry experts expect it to skyrocket, predicting a $22 billion market by 2024.
While hemp is showing potential, Eriksmoen says it's a relatively untested crop in many states and will need pioneering farmers to test it out.
"How do you get this started and who's going to take the risk and once those issues are worked out then it will either become a viable crop – a viable, marketable crop – or not," he states.
One barrier is the lack of processors for extracting CBD from the hemp crop.