Tennessee farmers look to post-CBD hemp production, facilities

They called it another “gold rush”.

That phrase was heard all the time after the 2018 farm bill legalized the commercial cultivation of hemp. Both seasoned farmers and brand new growers wanted to plant hemp, which by law cannot have more than 0.3% of the psychoactive substance in marijuana, and sell the flowers for CBD. They could make $15,000 an acre, maybe much more, it said.

When we started doing some programs in 2017 and 2018, 500 to 1,000 people showed up who were interested in hemp, said Aaron Smith, a crop marketing specialist in the University of Tennessee Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

In 2019, more than 2,600 Tennesseans held hemp cultivation licenses, a 1,100% increase over the previous year. At the time, the state was in the top 10 for hemp production, according to Hemp Benchmarks.

Rows of hemp plants grown at Allenbrooke Farm in Spring Hill, Tennessee.  (Courtesy of the Tennessee Hemp Alliance)

Crash, crash, bottom out and bubble burst is how those in the hemp industry describe what happened next. Most medical uses of CBD remain unproven. And the capacity to process CBD was insufficient. Many growers found themselves in warehouses of hemp they could not sell.

I think people just got ahead of the market, said Adam Koch of Hemp Benchmarks, which tracks the price of hemp in North America. Unfortunately, many manufacturers and many processors did not fare well.

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Image Source : www.tennessean.com

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