Hemp cultivation has reportedly quadrupled over the course of the last year, and there will be an estimated 115,000 to 138,000 acres of hemp harvested by the end of 2019. According to Vote Hemp’s 2019 License report, an estimated total of 230,000 acres of hemp will be planted this year.
In total, 511,442 acres of hemp have been licensed in the U.S. and 16,877 growers currently hold licenses. The acreage has increased by four times since last year, which Vote Hemp says shows intent.
“Intent is a useful indicator but we know from previous years that significantly less hemp is planted than what is licensed due to a variety of factors including access to seed and/or clones as well as experience,” the Vote Hemp 2019 U.S. Hemp License Report says.
In 2018, hemp was legalized at the federal level thanks to the passing of the Farm Bill. Following that, 13 states have enacted legislation for hemp programs and removed restrictions on the crop. This means that 46 states have legal hemp, with Idaho, South Dakota, Mississippi, and New Hampshire being the only states that don’t have hemp programs.
Activists at Vote Hemp are pleased with the advancements in the legalization of the crop, but they believe that it is just the start, and that more needs to be done to further hemp cultivation with federal prohibition on the plant now lifted.
“It’s time to build the infrastructure and expand hemp cultivation,” said Vote Hemp President Eric Steenstra.
When federal regulations on hemp were lifted last year, it removed the plant from drug scheduling. States were left to make the decision as to what kind of regulations they want to enact. The rules are called ‘pilot programs’, which must be approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture before they become permanent. As of this writing, the USDA has not yet approved such a program under the law.
We should only continue to see the production of hemp increase as more states pass legislation and the USDA approves pilot programs that become permanent. Regardless, it’s good news and positive progress that we’re finally seeing lawmakers be honest about the wealth of uses for hemp and the positive impact the crop has on the environment.