The passage of the 2018 Farm Bill has opened up the floodgates to the potential monetization of hemp as a crop. In 2017, growing hemp was an $820 million industry in the U.S, according to MarketWatch. Many experts believe last year’s legislation means the crop could balloon into a multibillion industry. Its versatility has driven consumer demand; in addition to textiles, hemp produces high-quality oil and protein products.
But why hemp? For one, it’s not as resource-intensive as other plants like corn, wheat or soy. Take corn, for example. Hemp requires less water, pesticides, herbicides and fertilizer than this staple, thus making it attractive to sustainability farmers. What’s more, the plant has over 25,000 known uses and has been hailed as an eco-friendly alternative to the current cadre of commodities.
There’s more to the story, especially as it relates to environmental impact. Hemp has been praised as a suitable option for organic farmers, because it’s fairly resistant to pests and diseases. What’s more, it grows so fast and tall that it outcompetes weeds, cutting down on labor costs. In this way, hemp is kinder to the planet than other options.
Last, some farmers have found that hemp nicely complements other crop rotations. A December 2018 Forbes article makes this case.
Ben Roberti operates a cattle ranch and grows alfalfa in California. He has found success with incorporating hemp crops into his rotations for the same reasons. “So many of the dairies are shutting down on the west coast that we just don’t view alfalfa as a commodity for the future,” he told ABC 10.