It appears that hemp acreage has quadrupled following the legalization of industrial hemp production enabled in the 2018 Farm Bill. According to the 2019 U.S. Hemp License Report from the advocacy group Vote Hemp, farmers are now licensed to grow hemp on 511,442 acres throughout the 34 states where hemp cultivation is licensed. Last year there were only 78,176 licensed hemp acres. The report incorporates reported licensed acreage as well as the progress of hemp legislation broken down by state.
“We are seeing hemp cultivation dramatically expand in the U.S. in 2019,” Vote Hemp President Eric Steenstra noted in a press release. “Now that we have lifted federal prohibition on hemp farming, it’s time build the infrastructure and expand hemp cultivation and the market for hemp products across the country so that all can reap the benefits of this versatile and sustainable crop.”
Information presented in the report was compiled through surveying state departments of agriculture beginning in 2016. So far this year a total of 16,877 state licenses have been issued to growers and researchers, marking an increase of 476 percent over last year. There was also a substantial increase in the number of hemp processing licenses that have been issued. While licensed hemp acreage has dramatically increased, the report estimates that the actual amount of hemp planting and harvesting will be significantly lower.
Although President Donald Trump signed the farm bill into law nearly a year ago, a number of unknown variables remain as it pertains to the new crop. The U.S Department of Agriculture has yet to release hemp regulations which will federal regulators to evaluate hemp proposals from individual states. The food and beverage industry is also waiting for the Food and Drug Administration will be regulating cannabidiol (CBD), which is extracted from hemp, after initially classifying the product as a drug.