Hemp Industry Bringing Hope to Millions
Sound engineer and Adventure Traveler Artist, Blu Fortner is adding the title “farmer” to his resume growing his first-ever commercial hemp seed crop, another pioneer in the growing hemp industry.
Native to Idaho, Blu moved across the state line of Idaho to Oregon a mere five years ago in his pursuit of happiness in growing medicinal hemp seed.
All of this transpired thanks to a dedication to offering relief to those who are suffering from a variety of illnesses.
“I moved from Idaho to Oregon as the laws were more friendly for growing cannabis” he stated.
Staring small, he grew an organic medicinal crop but quickly found that there wasn’t a market for what he was producing.
He then met Clint Shock. Clint is a plant physiologist and an agronomist. With Blu’s limited agricultural experience, this was an excellent meeting and Clint was the director of the Oregon State University’s Malheur Experimental Station. Clint was very interested in medicinal plants.
Blu wanted to learn more about the hemp crops and non-cannabis medicinal plants.
Forming an Ideal Partnership
This student-teacher team did a four-plant test with hemp seed in Clint’s back yard and three of the plants that they tested were very successful female plants that produced high amounts of CBD.
CBD, a non-psychoactive compound found in hemp, is believed by many to provide a number of health benefits.
Clint and Blu planted two fields this year and that totaled 5 acres of plants in an effort to produce female hemp seed plants for growers. They also partnered and named their new business “Medicinal Botanical Seed”.
At 38 years old, Blu is one of a new farmer generation that is attracted to agriculture by the allure of the hemp seed plant. This crop, newly legal, produces CBD and a wide array of products that range from the edible seeds to coffee pods and hemp clothing. According to the Farm Bill of 2018, hemp seed is now legal.
THC, a compound found in marijuana, and CBD, a compound found in both marijuana and hemp, are quite valuable in today’s market.
It’s important to note that THC is regulated by both state and federal regulations. CBD is legal both internationally and nationally.
Blu believes that the younger generation is far more attracted to hemp biomass farming due to their belief that it should always be legal. However, it also offers a nice for those who don’t have a lot of resources for land, capital, and equipment.
In general, farming doesn’t offer a lot of easy access. There are many hurdles for those who are just starting out in farming.
The demand for hemp currently outweighs the supply and small scale farmers are able to grow 1 acre and make a decent living.
Hemp Industry – Legal Cannabis Boom
Michael Bowman, who is widely referred to as “Mr. Hemp”, has long been a driving force in legalizing the hemp seed production in the United States.
Michael has spent his entire life farming on the Eastern Plains of Colorado just above the declining Ogalla Aquifer. Some twenty years ago, he researched crops that used less water than those crops of alfalfa and corn.
Hemp plants and the hemp industry farming quickly captured his attention as they needed less water and had other environmental benefits.
The hemp plant would quickly capture his attention and his imagination. He went on to list other environmental benefits of the hemp seed plant.
Thus was the start of his path to advocacy, and he quickly became the founding board chairman to the National Hemp Association.
With a state-by-state strategy, the association sought to legalize hemp and build up support for legalization on the federal level. This quickly progressed into the Farm Bill of both 2014, and of 2018.
The Farm Bill of 2014 would legalize hemp research in the states where it was allowed to be produced. The Farm Bill of 2018 removed hemp from the controlled substance list and gave it a new definition as an agricultural crop.
Per Vote Hemp, this nonprofit advocacy group went on to ensure that 46 states now recognize hemp as legal.
The Farm Bill of 2018 also removed restrictions on interstate commerce and the ability of financial institutions to lend money on crop insurance.
However, the new rules that guided such issues weren’t in place until 2020 which made the industry of 2019 the “teen years”.
While it’s been a bit awkward, there has been a lot of excellent growth under such awkwardness.
Since the Farm Bill of 2018 has passed, the cultivation of hemp in the United States has grown exponentially per Vote Hemp. It’s now estimated that there are 230,000 acres of hemp that were planted in 2019 in comparison to 78,176 acres planted in the year of 2018.
Hemp Industry – Moving The Farming Standard
The United States Hemp Industry has long been driven by CBD oil. Due in part by the profits as well as the lack of infrastructure to produce hemp products.
Per economic models, there is a net return of anywhere from $20,000 to $80,000 per acre for those who really understand what they’re doing.
Those numbers gain a lot of attention of the Farmers!
Contrary to what many believe, it’s not an easy crop to grow as a high production crop.
There are a lot of first-time farmers that aren’t making any money at all off of their crops.
With such a huge demand for CBD and hemp products, the newer legislation for legal hemp farming has opened up a variety of doors on the market according to Jessica Manly, director of communications for The National Young Farmers Coalition.
Jessica states that “I think it’s something that attracts the younger generation of farmers”.
From what she’s heard, many of the beginners are more interested in growing such crops and are willing to take the time to experiment on their land.
Additionally, many of the commodity farmers have transitioned their operations to hemp due to the higher prices and the improved crops that they can grow. Many of the commodity prices have remained low.
There are some reasons for concern, however, with regulations and permits as well as interstate trade.
With such a new industry, there is still much to be sorted out.
There is also a lot of concern regarding how long the bubble will last before it bursts. Will the supply and demand hold out? Or will it fail to stand the test of time?
Vegetable growers are concerned regarding the competition for the land and the hemp growers may have to pay more for the land and crowd out the other growers which can be a concern for food security.