There is great interest in growing Cannabis. The big money, most hope, is in legal marijuana. Industrial hemp is a prospective new crop for farmers with a lot less legal issues attached.
Industrial hemp has been authorized in the 2018 Farm Bill, but is not yet wide open for farmers to start planting.
As any start up, there is only European harvesting equipment that is suited to the large coarse stalks, although adaptation of U.S. harvesters and balers can come quickly if there is demand. There is also no infrastructure for the crop and no markets to handle the quantity farmers could produce.
The U.S. hemp industry is expecting business to expand and investors to beckon after Congress passed the new Farm Bill, which included a provision championed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to legalize and regulate the plant under the Department of Agriculture. The bill opens the door to state-by-state regulation, it removes hemp from the federal enforcement of outlaw drugs and it gives hemp farmers access to banking, crop insurance and federal grants.
So just how bright is the future of hemp, a relative of marijuana? Dr. Mike Walden, an economist at NC State University, shares his thoughts in the program below.
AUDIO: Profit Matters 1-1-19