Kern County has inadvertently become the hemp capital of California, having more hemp acreage registered than any other county by a significant margin. With the recent legalization of industrial hemp production enabled by the 2018 Farm Bill, many farmers are looking to the crop as having tremendous potential.
“We’re close to 7,000 acres. I believe the state has about double that, so we have nearly half of the entire acreage that’s registered in the state,” said Kern County Agricultural Commissioner Glenn Fankhauser. “I think that it is a crop that’s going to be around for a while. It may not be at the same level that it is now, but then again, it may be.”
Registering the most hemp acreage in any county was not accomplished by design. As ag commissioners have been making decisions regarding hemp production in their respective counties, Fankhauser said he wanted to approach it as if it were any other ordinary crop. Understanding some of the particulars of hemp production helped allow for a more open mind about cultivation in Kern County.
“I started to realize it’s not a compatible crop with marijuana, so being a county that’s against marijuana growing that’s kind of how I pitched it to my board of supervisors,” said Fankhauser. “The more hemp that we grow in Kern County the less likely it is that we’re going to have illegal marijuana grows that we don’t want.”
Other counties have taken a more reserved approach to the new crop. Roughly half of the counties in California currently have moratoriums on hemp production in place. While counties decide the best path forward for regulating hemp production, many in the industry believe there is a wide arena of opportunity for the crop going forward.
“I do believe that this plant has the potential to have many different industries involved in the final crop, not just for CBD, or not just for hemp oil, it could be various different types of things,” Fankhauser noted. “If there are more markets that open up for different aspects of the crop, it could be just another one of those crops that’s in the rotation of a normal grower.”
Listen to Fankhauser’s interview below.