Hemp has been an extremely important resource throughout human history. To illustrate, the Chinese were making paper out of hemp over 2,000 years ago, and scientists believe people have been making textiles from hemp for over 8,000 years. Today, we are seeing a resurgence in the use of hemp fibers for building and construction materials.

Hemp is a renewable resource with near-endless applications, and scientists and researchers have been searching for new ways to utilize the plant. While the environmental benefits of hemp-derived materials are impressive in themselves, they also demonstrate great promise in construction applications.

What are Industrial Hemp Fibers?

Unlike CBD hemp that is grown for its flowers, industrial hemp is grown primarily for its stalks. More specifically, it is cultivated for the fibers contained within the stalks. These fibers have long been recognized for their usefulness. Importantly, we have figured out countless ways to process hemp fibers into paper, plastic, textiles, and building materials. Because research tells us, “fiber derived from hemp is one of the strongest and durable forms of natural fiber” on earth.

While the overall utility of industrial hemp is a major selling point, the fact that it is a highly renewable resource makes it even more attractive. In modern society, it is well known that we have some harsh realities to face with issues like global warming and the depletion of fossil fuels. Hemp can help alleviate these problems by reducing our dependency on nonrenewable resources. Even more, certain practices like hemp carbon farming actually help clean up the environment.

For the best fibers possible, industrial hemp crops are harvested during the flowering phase. At this point in a hemp plant’s life cycle, the fibers are at their strongest. Once harvested, manufacturers have a variety of methods for separating valuable fibers from other plant materials. They also sort through and divide different types of hemp fiber.

 

Hemp Bast and Hemp Hurd

After harvest, hemp stalks are broken down into two distinct fibers: hemp bast and hemp hurd. The longer fibers found on the outside of the stalk are known as “bast,” while the shorter inner fibers are referred to as “hurd.” In most hemp crops, the bast comprises around 25% of the fiber material, while the hurd makes up the other 75%.

Since people started cultivating hemp thousands of years ago, the focus has been almost exclusively on bast. However, with the advent of modern technology, people are finding more and more creative uses for hemp hurd.

Hemp Bast

Hemp bast is used to make many of the materials which industrial hemp is known for. Taken from the outside of the stalk, bast fibers are long and durable. As such, these fibers are traditionally used to make rope, textiles, and paper. For more modern applications, people have begun integrating bast into construction materials like lumber.

Hemp Hurd

Hemp hurd has long been considered a useless byproduct of bast production. Nonetheless, in recent years, people have discovered several new applications for hemp hurd. Of these, construction materials present a promising new path for utilizing hurd – especially with things like hempcrete and hemp insulation.

Building with Hemp Lumber

With a growing interest in hemp, manufacturers are looking for ways to use it as a supplement for traditional lumber. Not only does hemp show great promise as a viable lumber source, but it can also be grown far quicker than any tree. On average, hemp plants are ready to harvest in 4 months. Conversely, tree species used for lumber take anywhere from 20-80 years before they can be harvested.

Hempwood

A very interesting product to recently hit the market is known as “hempwood.” This innovative new lumber was recently engineered by a company named Fibonacci. To create hempwood, they took a process used to make bamboo lumber and tweaked it for hemp fiber. Utilizing hemp bast, Fibonacci came up with a product that is 20% harder than oak wood.

In construction, hempwood can be used anywhere that hardwoods are traditionally used. For the most part, hempwood is utilized on the interior of homes on things like hardwood floors and cabinetry.

Hemp Particleboard

Hemp particleboard is another new construction material made from hemp. Unlike hempwood, particleboard is made from leftover hemp hurd. It is made by mixing hurd materials with glues and resin and then forming them into board shapes. As seen with most particleboard, hemp particleboard is not load-bearing and should only be used for applications such as furniture.

What is Hempcrete?

Hempcrete is a highly versatile construction material that is made from hemp fibers. Because hempcrete is made from hemp hurd, it utilizes a part of the plant originally regarded as waste. Hempcrete is made by mixing hurd with lime, as well as other natural materials like sand. After blending, the mix is poured into casts of various shapes – such as bricks, blocks, and panels.

Hempcrete benefits the environment in several ways. For starters, hemp helps lessen the impacts of global warming, while traditional concrete manufacturing contributes to CO2 emissions. This is because hemp farms pull CO2 from the atmosphere, while concrete manufacturing plants expel excessive heat and carbon. Even more, hempcrete is 100% recyclable and can be used as a fertilizer after it is removed from a building.

Hemp Bricks and Hemp Blocks

Hemp bricks and blocks are made from hempcrete. To make these building materials, manufacturers simply form hempcrete into appropriate-sized casts. After they are formed, hemp bricks and blocks have a variety of applications with both internal and external walls.

Builders value hemp bricks and blocks because they breathe well and offer excellent insulation. Even more, they are more elastic than traditional concrete. As such, hemp bricks and blocks may be better suited for environmental stressors like earthquakes.

Hemp Insulation

Of the new hemp building materials to recently hit the market, hemp insulation is perhaps the most promising. As seen with most hemp-based construction materials, hemp insulation not only functions extremely well but is also beneficial for the environment.

Hemp insulation stands out from traditional insulation and other fiber composites by the way it is made. According to the Innovative Building Materials website, “Hemp insulation is a composite material but one that is very eco-friendly. Instead of consisting of 51% plant fibers and 49% plastics and chemicals [like most fiber composites], hemp insulation contains as much as 92% hemp and about 8% polyester fibers.” As such, hemp is more environmentally friendly than other fiber composite insulations like those made from coconut or wood.

When compared to traditional fiberglass insulation, hemp insulation doesn’t disappoint. As seen with hemp blocks, insulation made from hemp has excellent moisture-wicking capabilities. This trait makes hemp insulation quite effective when dealing with water and humidity. While fiberglass insulation easily gets bogged down and ruined when it comes in contact with water, hemp insulation easily dries. This fact allows hemp insulation to properly regulate humidity levels within buildings. It also makes hemp insulation more durable than fiberglass insulation.

Hemp insulation works wonderfully when it comes to basic heat and cold retention. In fact, hemp insulation meets and exceeds building codes in every region of the world. Therefore, even if you live in the arctic, hemp insulation will keep your home warm and toasty in the depths of winter. Finally, nearly any contractor on earth would rather work with hemp insulation than fiberglass. Because, fiberglass is notorious for getting into your skin and causing an awful itching sensation.

What Does the Future Hold for Hemp Building Materials?

Since hemp was federally legalized in 2018, the industry has been primarily focused on CBD production. While we are huge fans of CBD, High Grade Hemp Seed is also excited to see new interest in hemp-derived building materials. Not only are hemp construction materials good for the environment, but they are also extremely functional.

Due to taboos and unjust drug laws surrounding cannabis, it seems we lost touch with the hemp plant for a time. However, modern technology is looking at hemp in all-new ways and revitalizing this relationship that has existed for nearly 10,000 years. Just as hemp paper played a critical role in human history, we are discovering new ways to solve contemporary problems with hemp. As our attention continues to focus on saving the environment, there is no doubt that hemp will grow increasingly important.

As we continue on the path we are on, you can rest assured that hemp, and High Grade Hemp Seed, will play a critical role in creating better industrial hemp genetics and even more environmentally friendly buildings.

The hemp space represents one of the most exciting, yet most volatile facets of legal cannabis. While hemp was federally legalized in 2018, certain cannabinoids such as CBD remain in a legal “gray area.” Therefore, CBD companies are operating without clear direction from the FDA. In like fashion, the industrial hemp space struggles to find its footing while we wait for hemp-derived materials to gain mainstream acceptance.

With the hemp industry constantly in flux, consumers are ultimately the ones who suffer. As there is little consistency with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) in hemp, poor quality hemp products pervade the marketplace.

To help you avoid such problems, we’re here to show you exactly where hemp products come from. Ideally, by learning about the hemp supply chain, you can make informed purchasing decisions.

What is the Hemp Supply Chain?

Whether it be CBD products or textiles made from hemp, the supply chain is similar. A supply chain is defined as “the entire process of making and selling commercial goods, including every stage from the supply of materials and the manufacture of goods through to their distribution and sale.” The hemp supply chain is comprised of all the people, activities, information, and resources that come between planting a seed (or plant start) and the final sale of a hemp product.

The hemp supply chain can be traced through the cultivation, processing, and sale of any hemp product on the market today. If you enjoy CBD gummies as a way to relax at the end of the day, you can trace their production through the supply chain. Similarly, lumber products, animal bedding, and textiles made from industrial hemp have undergone their own journey through the supply chain.

Handling the Product from Farm to Consumer

The hemp industry as we know it was born in a legal grey area. Today, it is often overlooked that the 2014 Farm Bill legalized hemp cultivation for “research purposes.” This legal loophole gave rise to the CBD industry in the United States. The industry as we know it today is largely built on this random patchwork of businesses that operated without regulation. While hemp was officially legalized with the 2018 Farm Bill, we are still waiting on official guidance from FDA for a national CBD industry.

The confusing history of legal hemp in the United States further speaks to the necessity of understanding the hemp supply chain.

Hemp must be grown and processed in compliance with both state laws. This means meeting requirements for THC levels and product purity. Yet, this process gets easily confused in different state markets. To illustrate, it is legal to sell full-spectrum CBD extracts in Colorado – as long as they contain less than 0.3% THC. However, full-spectrum CBD extracts are illegal in Idaho because they contain trace amounts of THC.

Thankfully, production standards are rising as hemp continues to gain momentum in the mainstream. A common practice among state regulators is to visit hemp farms and test for THC potency. In other regions, flowers and plant materials are tested for impurities such as mold and pesticides.

While GMPs are on the rise across the hemp industry, there is still a good deal of shady operators in the industry today. The internet is awash with stories of people purchasing fake, or even poisonous, CBD products. Therefore, it is always a good idea to carefully research where your hemp products come from.

 

Hemp Supply Chain Inputs

Inputs represent the beginning of the supply chain. Concerning hemp, inputs are associated with farm work, including the labor, materials, info, and time needed to grow crops. In essence, hemp supply chain inputs bring crops from the seed phase (or plant start) to harvest. This phase of the supply chain also includes the technology and equipment required to grow hemp on a commercial scale.

Hemp supply chain inputs include:

Importantly, the quality standards of hemp begin at the hemp farm. The sort of care and attention farmers give their crops will be reflected in the overall quality of a finished product. This notion rings true for CBD products as well as materials made from industrial hemp.

Understanding the Hemp Supply Chain

The rest of the hemp supply chain process includes the steps required to take a hemp product to market. After raw plant material leaves a hemp farm, it often exchanges hands many times before finally being processed and sold.

Primary businesses in the hemp supply chain include:

  • Transportation businesses
  • 3rd party testing labs
  • Storage companies
  • Extraction labs
  • Edibles manufacturers
  • Vape companies
  • Textiles producers
  • Paper manufacturers
  • Sales teams

While many hemp businesses operate within a single step of the supply chain, this is not always the case. This notion leads us to the topic of vertical integration.

Vertically integrated hemp businesses handle their own products from the time seeds are planted in the ground until the products are finally sold. For example, a vertically integrated CBD edibles company would grow their own hemp, extract cannabinoids, infuse edibles, package goods, and finally sell the product. Even more, they would have a marketing team to develop their brand and salespeople to get their product to market.

The hemp supply chain is generally not vertically integrated. Coupled with a lack of centralized quality control from the USDA or FDA, the number of different parties involved in the hemp supply chain can cause big problems for the consumer. Namely, because all it takes is one weak link in the chain and the consumer gets a poor product.

Seed-to-Sale Control Over Hemp Products

The hemp supply chain is a highly complex orchestration that involves many moving parts. The fact that the hemp industry is brand new and loosely regulated by individual states leaves room for poor business practices — even deceitful behavior. To circumvent many of the systemic issues with the hemp supply chain, forward-looking hemp companies are turning to vertical integration.

By controlling their products entirely from “seed to shelf,” hemp companies ensure that their customers get the best quality possible. Even more, this practice allows hemp companies to self-regulate quality control more efficiently without full guidance from the FDA and USDA.

Summary

Whether you are interested in CBD flowers or materials made from industrial hemp, the modern hemp industry is extremely intricate. In the end, going with a trusted, vertically integrated hemp brand is the best way to ensure you get your hands on high-quality products.

At High Grade Hemp Seed, we are diligent about working with hemp farmers who share our vision for quality and sustainability in the industry. We are proud to say that we sell hemp seeds to several vertically integrated hemp businesses and we are part of a growing hemp eco-system with Santa Fe Farms.

Hemp is one of the most diverse plants on earth. Not only are CBD flowers great for health and wellness, but industrial hemp has near-endless applications with building materials, plastic composites, biofuels, and bioremediation. Many of these primary uses for industrial hemp are also beneficial for the environment.

Since hemp was nationally legalized in 2018, people have made major strides incorporating the plant into new environmental initiatives. Moreover, there are countless new hemp businesses born every day which are dedicated to promoting this renewable resource. These new advocates fully embrace the benefits of industrial hemp.

What is Industrial Hemp?

Today, the term “hemp” is used to denote any species of cannabis sativa plant that contains less than 0.03% THC. Within the subcategory of hemp, crops generally fall into two categories: CBD-producing plants and industrial hemp plants.

Hemp that is grown for CBD features delicate flowers which are prized for their cannabinoid content and terpene profiles. These crops are carefully grown to produce quality flowers for human consumption. Within this market segment, High Grade Hemp Seed specializes in quality CBD genetics.

Rather than being grown for prized flowers, industrial hemp is grown for its fibrous stalks and nutritious seeds. Manufacturers and scientists have discovered thousands of ways to use the industrial hemp plant, many of them being extremely beneficial for the environment.

What can Industrial Hemp be Used For?

Construction Materials

The applicability of industrial hemp for construction is nothing short of spectacular, especially compared to traditional materials. Not only are hemp-derived building materials highly durable, but they also come from a renewable resource. To this end, hemp stalks mature in just four months, while most trees take 20-80 years before they are ready to harvest.

Lumber is a noteworthy product that is from industrial hemp. Hemp wood was engineered to meet and exceed the construction properties of hardwood trees, such as oak. With that said, hemp lumber can be used anywhere hardwoods are used in construction — such as cabinets, flooring, and home interiors.

Hempcrete is another amazing material that is made from the stalks of industrial hemp. According to Mother Earth News, hempcrete “is created by wet-mixing the chopped woody stem of the hemp plant (hemp shiv) with a lime-based binder to create a material that can be cast into molds.” Builders enjoy hempcrete because it is breathable and features great insulating properties.

Contractors use hempcrete on the interior of buildings, including walls, ceiling, and insulation. While hempcrete is not considered “load-bearing” like regular concrete, it is gaining attention from eco-friendly builders because it comes from a renewable resource.

Hemp Biofuels

Industrial hemp can be made into biofuels, including diesel, ethanol, and methanol. Hemp biofuels have the potential to replace fossil fuels in several important applications, including diesel engines and home furnaces.

Looking at the environmental movement, hemp biofuels offer a clean, renewable alternative to fossil fuels. As most are aware, fossil fuels are limited on planet earth. To illustrate, a study by Stanford University reveals that our oil supplies will likely deplete within 30-50 years. On top of that, the burning of fossil fuels is the leading cause of global warming.

Due to logistical limits on mass cultivation, hemp biofuels cannot replace fossil fuels in their entirety. However, as we continue to search for ways to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels, hemp offers a unique green energy source. Hemp biofuels can be implemented to offer incremental relief from fossil fuels as we search for greater solutions.

Paper & Plastic Composites

As seen with construction materials, industrial hemp has a number of eco-friendly applications with paper and plastic. These highly sought-after materials offer some of the most promising applications of industrial hemp to date.

When compared to paper made from trees, industrial hemp shows incredible promise. As previously mentioned with lumber, hemp plants grow in just a fraction of the time it takes to grow trees. Even more impressive is the fact that one acre of hemp produces as much paper as four acres of trees. Manufacturers also report that hemp paper is stronger than paper made from trees. It is also easier to recycle. For both environmental benefits and practical use, hemp paper is set to revolutionize the paper industry.

Composite plastics are yet another amazing application of industrial hemp. You can make several types of plastics from hemp, including cellophane, celluloid, rayon, and many more. Hemp plastics show amazing promise as an eco-friendly replacement for plastics made from fossil fuels. Not only are hemp plastics biodegradable, but they are highly renewable. Due to the novelty of the process, hemp plastics are expensive to produce. However, it is likely that the process will become cheaper as the hemp industry continues to expand worldwide.

Carbon Farming

Carbon farming is another interesting example of industrial hemp uses. Carbon farmers utilize processes that reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. An example of a carbon farming technique is no-till cultivation. By not overturning the ground soil, carbon farmers keep CO2 in the ground, as opposed to releasing it into the atmosphere.

Beyond carbon farming practices, hemp farms also act as “carbon sinks.” In the natural world, carbon sinks are environments that soak in more carbon than they expel. Whether it be a forest preserve or hemp farm, carbon sinks lessen the amount of ambient CO2 in the atmosphere. By removing CO2, carbon sinks help reduce the effects of global warming.

Hemp plants themselves have very interesting characteristics when it comes to carbon sequestration. During photosynthesis, hemp plants pull carbon from the atmosphere, where it permanently bonds to plant fibers. The sequestered carbon remains forever bonded to the plant material unless it is burned or composted.

Bioremediation

Bioremediation is a forward-looking practice where farmers, biologists, and ecologists work together to restore polluted tracts of land. According to the University of Hawaii website, “Bioremediation technologies utilize naturally occurring microorganisms, such as bacteria, fungi, and yeast, to degrade hazardous substances into non-toxic or less toxic substances.”

Hemp plants are powerful catalysts for bioremediation. When planted on polluted land, hemp crops naturally absorb harmful toxins from the soil. Studies show that hemp helps remove petroleum, metals, pesticides, and solvents from the earth. The environmental impacts of bioremediation and hemp are far-reaching, it will be fascinating to see how this practice develops in the future.

Summary: The Benefits of Industrial Hemp

Due to current environmental crises, scientists are constantly searching for solutions to our problems with global warming and resource management. On several fronts, the hemp plant shows amazing promise in curbing such monumental issues. Whether it be by replacing non-renewable resources, or helping clean up the biosphere, the environmental benefits of industrial hemp are plentiful.

The Environmental Benefits of Industrial Hemp (Infographic)

There is no denying that hemp is a miracle plant. Whether you grow hemp for CBD flowers or industrial purposes, there are near endless uses for the crop. To illustrate, today’s hemp-derived CBD market features endless products — for both people and pets. In like fashion, we have discovered amazing applications for industrial hemp. Fiber and seeds from industrial hemp are used to make lumber, rope, textiles, food, fuel, and more.

It seems the more we discover about the hemp species, the more uses we find for it. Amazingly, forward-looking farmers are using hemp to help curb global warming. The primary cause of global warming is the greenhouse effect, which is an atmospheric imbalance intimately tied to excessive carbon emissions. Scientists and farmers are working together in developing a practice known as “carbon farming.” With this practice, farmers plant crops with a strategic intention to remove carbon from the atmosphere and return it to the soil.

Hemp is being grown with carbon farming practices. In doing so, hemp farmers are fusing methods of sustainable agriculture with those that help reduce global warming. As people continue to develop procedures for protecting the planet, hemp carbon farming offers an exciting glimpse into new possibilities.

Global Warming, Fossil Fuels, and Carbon

Climate change is one of the primary topics of discussion for many popular political debates. While most people are aware that global warming is a threat, many lack awareness on how to take action against the ever-evolving problem. Even more, most people don’t quite understand how the earth regulates carbon levels in the atmosphere.

Global warming occurs when excess carbon dioxide (CO2) is pumped into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels. When there is more CO2 in the atmosphere than can be accommodated for in nature, it causes problems. Namely, as the CO2 gets trapped in the atmosphere, it hinders the ability of the sun’s heat to escape efficiently. Within the natural order of the earth, even incremental changes to the atmosphere can have detrimental effects.

Earth regulates its own carbon levels in a process known as the “carbon cycle.” In this dynamic, trees and plants pull CO2 out of the atmosphere and deposit it into the soil. According to National Geographic, “Ideally, the carbon cycle would keep Earth’s carbon concentrations in balance, moving the carbon from place to place and keeping atmospheric carbon dioxide levels steady. However, the carbon cycle is changing because of human activity.”

Eco-conscious farmers and scientists have developed new methods of farming that can help support the natural world in removing excess carbon from the atmosphere.

What is Carbon Farming?

Scientists, farmers, and climatologists are working together to create the carbon farming industry. Carbon farming is the application of agricultural methods that seek to reduce the amount of CO2 that is released into the atmosphere. Not only is this practice helpful for global warming, but is also great for growing crops.

Many traditional agricultural practices are not conscious of the earth’s carbon cycle. To this end, activities like driving tractors and plowing fields release a lot of carbon into the atmosphere. They do this by stirring up soil and allowing carbon to oxidize. The burning of fossil fuels in the diesel engines of farm equipment also contributes to this process.

Carbon farmers take very specific steps to reduce the amount of carbon that their farms release into the atmosphere. These methods include no-till soil growing, livestock rotation, and the use of ground coverings such as mulch and plastic. Interestingly, by eliminating emissions in their own operations, carbon farmers help reduce the overall ambient CO2 in the atmosphere. In turn, they help lessen the impact of global warming. This is a very exciting prospect for hemp carbon farming.

 

What is a Carbon Sink?

In nature, carbon sinks are ecosystems that “absorb more carbon than they release.” Needless to say, carbon sinks are a key component in the carbon cycle. It is precisely these areas that carbon farmers seek to mimic in their operations.

Plant and tree species are the most important element in carbon sinks. As such, plants are perhaps the most critical element in the entire carbon cycle. Hemp crops fit nicely into current carbon sink models. Plants like hemp remove CO2 from the atmosphere through photosynthesis. In essence, they help tip the scales of the carbon cycle to a place where land removes carbon from the atmosphere, instead of contributing to excess CO2.

It’s worth noting that the ocean is also a massive carbon sink. The seas function as carbon sinks as they trap and store large amounts of carbon that would otherwise remain in the atmosphere.

Hemp as a Carbon Sink

Hemp carbon farms are some of the most efficient carbon sinks on earth. Amazingly, hemp carbon dioxide absorption is more efficient per acre than any other plant or tree species known to man. When combined with modern carbon farming techniques, hemp is one of the most effective weapons we have against global warming.

One of the more interesting things about hemp has to do with how the plants retain carbon after it is sequestered from the atmosphere. Interestingly, when hemp conducts photosynthesis, the carbon that plants pull from the atmosphere permanently bonds to the fibers within the plants. Unless the hemp is burned or composted, the sequestered carbon remains in the hemp fibers permanently. In this way, hemp carbon sequestration helps keep excess CO2 out of the atmosphere.

With so many environmental benefits in hemp carbon farming, experts hope that it will help lead the charge against climate change. Hemp is revolutionizing our understanding of regenerative farming, while also lessening our dependency on limited natural resources, such as trees. Interestingly, this once illegal plant shows great promise in helping save the planet.

Contact High Grade Hemp Seed

At High Grade Hemp Seed, we are honored to spread the message about the role of hemp in carbon farming. If you have questions about industrial hemp or CBD hemp, please Contact Us today.

The 2020 fire season started early, with multiple fires raging throughout Washington, Oregon, and California, three states where hemp farming has proliferated. Hemp Industry Daily profiled the damage, highlighting California farmers who lost their entire crop to the flames as well as Oregon farmers who doubted the retail value of hemp flowers damaged by wildfire smoke. These unfortunate stories highlight how important it is for farmers to invest in hemp crop insurance. There are no guarantees when it comes to farming, and the best way for farmers to manage their risk is through hemp insurance.

However, with industrial hemp still newly legalized, what hemp insurance coverage is available for farmers? How much does it cost, and what do the available plans cover? In this article, we review the current state of industrial hemp crop insurance, including new insurance programs announced by the USDA.

Why Farmers Need Hemp Crop Insurance

Imagine what would happen if a wildfire ripped through your farm, destroying your entire crop. Don’t have wildfires in your area? What about hurricanes, floods, tornados, droughts, early frosts, diseases, or infestations? Even farmers who grow their crops in greenhouses are at risk of an equipment failure that can demolish their crops overnight.

Every farmer faces the risk that their yields will disappoint, or they won’t get their crop to market due to an unforeseen disaster. For this reason, crop insurance can be a literal financial lifesaver, compensating farmers if the worst should happen. Crop insurance isn’t cheap, which is why some farmers continue to roll the dice and plant without insurance. However, with the threat of ever-increasing extreme weather patterns, more farmers are investing in crop insurance—that includes hemp farmers.

The 2018 Hemp Farm Bill paved the way for hemp farmers to qualify for government-supported insurance. Currently, the federal government allows 15 private insurance providers to offer crop insurance to farmers, ranchers, and growers against certain types of crop loss. The government also helps subsidize premiums for many of these policies.

Hemp Crop Insurance Options

Today’s hemp farmers have a variety of insurance options to consider. In February 2020, the United States Department of Agriculture announced two insurance programs for hemp producers as well as two future programs to roll out in 2021. These USDA hemp crop insurance programs come with other certain caveats, but they represent a growing effort to offer insurance to hemp farmers.

It’s important for farmers to do their homework to understand what insurance options they qualify for, the value vs. the cost of each option, and how much insurance they need. The current range of hemp insurance includes:

  • Multi-Peril Crop Insurance (MPCI)
  • Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP)
  • Nursery Crop Insurance and Nursery Value Select Crop Insurance
  • Whole-Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP)
  • Private hemp insurance

 

Multi-Peril Crop Insurance

In early 2020, the USDA announced a pilot Multi-Peril Crop Insurance program. As New Frontier Data explains, this USDA crop insurance “offers protection against various natural causes, including drought, excessive moisture, freeze, and disease.” The site also mentions that “MPCI often includes yield protection and price protection against market fluctuations.”

This particular program provides 50/55 coverage, which means that if a farmer loses more than half of their average yield, losses are paid out at 55% of the average market price for that crop. Farmers can also seek additional coverage of up to 75/100 for an additional cost. One thing to note is that the MPCI does not cover prevented plant or replant payments.

Not every farmer can take advantage of this USDA crop insurance. Currently, the pilot program is only available in select counties in the following 21 states:

  • Alabama
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin

To determine if your county is eligible, use this tool from the USDA.

If you do live in a county where the USDA’s MPCI insurance is available, you’ll need to meet additional standards to qualify for the insurance. You’ll need to provide proof that:

  • You have a license to grow hemp in your state
  • You’ve been growing hemp for at least one year
  • You have a contract with a buyer for your crop
  • You are growing at least five acres of hemp for CBD and at least 25 acres for grain and fiber
  • You are not growing a prohibited variety of CBD hemp
  • Your hemp meets the strict compliance guidelines set out in the 2018 Farm Bill, meaning it must test below 0.3% THC.

Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program

What if you aren’t located in one of the participating counties covered by the USDA’s MPCI program? Then consider signing up for the second hemp insurance program announced by the USDA called the Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP). As described in a press release by the USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA), NAP “…provides coverage against loss for hemp grown for fiber, grain, seed, or CBD for the 2020 crop year where no permanent federal crop insurance program is available.”

Like the MPCI program, the NAP offers 50/55 coverage as well as buy-up coverage in some cases. This particular RMA hemp insurance also covers prevented planting in certain situations. Also, like the MPCI, farmers who wish to gain NAP coverage must have a license to grow hemp, show proof of a contract to sell their product, and test below 0.3% THC. Learn more about the NAP.

Nursery Crop Insurance

Farmers who grow hemp indoors don’t have to worry about extreme weather destroying their crop, but what if the electrical system short circuits or their thermostat malfunctions? In 2021, the USDA plans to roll out two programs to support nursery farmers. According to the agency’s press release, both the Nursery Crop Insurance Program and the Nursery Value Selection pilot program will insure hemp grown in containers. Specific qualifications or requirements for this program have yet to be released.

Whole-Farm Revenue Protection

Many farmers plant more than one crop throughout the year. Rather than taking out an insurance policy on each individual crop, you can instead choose Whole-Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP) through the USDA. As the name implies, WFRP insures against the total income of your farm. WFRP can provide protection up to $8.5 million as long as you meet the program’s eligibility requirements, which includes having two or more commodities on your farm.

Take a look at this helpful fact sheet to learn more about WFRP.

Private Hemp Farm Insurance

The USDA supports a large number of farming and agricultural insurance policies, but they aren’t the only insurers around. A private hemp insurance policy may be the right choice for you if you:

  • Don’t qualify for USDA hemp crop insurance
  • Would like a more customized hemp farm insurance plan
  • Want ancillary coverage beyond what the USDA offers
  • Want to compare costs and features
  • Want a policy that will offer protection in the event that your crop runs hot (above 0.3% THC) and must be destroyed
  • Want more coverage than what the USDA offers

You might need to do more legwork to find an insurance company willing to develop a customized policy for you. Be ready to provide a wide range of information on your farming operation. According to an article on hemp insurance by PennState Extension, one private insurance company took location, end-use, and quality of the crop into consideration when pricing its policy. It also provided a policy cost ballpark of $200 to $500 per acre.

What Hemp Crop Insurance Is Right for You?

If you want to protect your future hemp profits from the unknown with hemp insurance, you have several different options to choose from. Whether you decide to enroll in MPCI, NAP, WFRP, or seek out private insurance options, do your homework. Look closely at the fine print of every policy and the history of the company you are working with, especially if you are solicited by an insurance agent.

Another great way to lower the risk of an unsuccessful harvest is to invest in the highest quality hemp seeds. Our hemp strains are known for their robustness, and all of our seeds are strenuously bred to stay in compliance so you can easily qualify for and retain your hemp crop insurance.

Have questions about the right CBD hemp seed strain for you? Contact us today.

At High Grade, we wanted to know how hemp farmers were faring in the midst of a rapidly changing industry wrapped up in one of the most unpredictable years on record. We also touched base with non-hemp farmers to learn about their struggles and triumphs. After surveying over 125 farmers, here’s what we found.

Key Takeaways:

  • 59% of hemp farmers are between the ages of 31 and 50 years old.
  • 61% of hemp farmers have been farming hemp for five years or less.
  • 41% of hemp farmers consider themselves “subsistence farmers,” while an identical 41% of hemp farmers categorize themselves as “commercial farmers.”
  • 39% of farmers (hemp farmers and non-hemp farmers) with over 10 years of experience claim finding labor is the most challenging part of managing a farm.
  • 54% of farmers (hemp and non-hemp farmers) claim they do not use modern technologies on their farm.
  • Just under 30% of hemp farmers were able to earn over $5,000 per acre.
  • Only 17% of non-hemp farmers claimed to make over $5,000 per acre.
  • Hemp farmers, on average, dedicate just over half of their acreage to planting hemp.

About the Survey

We used Survey Monkey to survey over 125 farmers (ranging in age, experience, income, and acreage) across the country. Of the farmers we surveyed, just over 35% of respondents farmed hemp, while more than 57% of respondents claimed they were considering farming hemp. The majority of total respondents were between 41 and 60, though 24% were between the ages of 31 and 40. Over half of the respondents had been farming for five years or less; just over 60% of respondents considered themselves subsistence farmers.

Overall, the responses we received were fascinating and have provided us with an important glimpse into the state of both hemp farming and non-hemp farming. Here is a deeper dive into some of the results that really caught our eye.

Profitability of Hemp vs. Other Crops

Hemp is one of the hottest cash crops in the country, especially hemp grown for CBD or CBG. Some reports claim that farmers can earn $30,000 or more per acre by farming hemp for CBD or CBG. Our survey results don’t exactly bear out these Pollyanna claims, but they do seem to indicate that hemp can be more profitable than many other crops.
Our survey found that nearly 30% of hemp farmers were able to earn more than $5,000 per acre. Compare that with just 17% of non-hemp farmers who could make the same claim. Please note that our survey did not distinguish between hemp farmers who grew hemp for fiber, seed, or cannabinoids, so the earnings per acre may be affected by which crop hemp farmers harvest.
The bottom line is that while more farmers are earning over $5,000 per acre farming hemp than other crops, the majority of hemp farmers (over 70%) are earning less than $5,000 per acre. New farmers dreaming of raking in $30,000 per acre need to re-evaluate their expectations.
With that said, hemp profitability is possible. Here are 10 hemp farming tips for increasing profits.

 

The Biggest Challenges in Farming

Farmers face all sorts of challenges, from uncertain weather to expensive equipment, government regulations, and more. But what are the biggest challenges farmers face? We set this question to our survey respondents, and they told us that the two most difficult things to manage on the farm were selling the harvest (21%) and finding/managing labor (21%).

What is the most difficult thing to manage on your farm?Though these responses included farmers of every stripe, selling the harvest and managing labor are two challenges we hear about a lot in the hemp community. Hemp was only broadly legalized in the 2018 Farm Bill, so the selling infrastructure is being built while farmers are learning how to grow hemp in their fields. Currently, there are no hemp silos where farmers can drop off their crops. Take a look at one of our latest blog posts about how to sell hemp biomass.

Likewise, farmers looking to grow hemp flower must harvest the buds by hand. This often requires a high level of labor, which can be difficult when workers are few and far between.

Is Farming Becoming More Competitive?

For the most part, answers to our survey ran the gamut. After all, farmers are not a monolithic population. They’ve got all sorts of opinions. One question, however, seemed to unite nearly all of our respondents. We asked whether farming was becoming more competitive or less competitive. A whopping 88% of respondents told us that farming was becoming more competitive.

hemp farming is becoming more competitive

In a world where margins are pinched and profits are harder to come by, farmers need to focus on using best practices. For hemp farming, however, we’re often figuring out the best practices as we go along. Learn what we’ve figured out in our 2020 hemp growing guide.

Using Modern Farm Technology

One of the best ways to improve efficiency and productivity on the farm is to invest in modern equipment. Despite common stereotypes of farmers working the fields with a shovel and horse-pulled plow, many farmers are excited to embrace modern technology to improve farm performance. In fact, 46% of our respondents told us that they already use modern technology on the farm, while 37% of respondents were considering adding more tech to their business.

Do you use modern technologies for farming?

One of the challenges that may be holding farmers back from investing in new technologies, however, is a lack of capital.

Farming Revenue vs. Expenses

Farming is a risky business, and according to our survey, profits are tighter than ever. Over 80% of our respondents earn less than $350,000 on their farm, while just over 7% earn half a million dollars or more per year. Unsurprisingly, many of these same respondents are working to keep their expenses low. Around 84% of survey respondents claimed expenses of less than $200,000 per year.

Farmers thinking of switching to hemp may be able to increase their earnings per acre, but they’ll have to overcome a variety of expenses first. It costs money to invest in a new crop. Farmers must think about things such as new equipment needs, irrigation, soil management, and even the cost of high-quality hemp seeds. We always recommend that farmers take the time to build out a complete hemp farming plan before making the plunge into growing hemp. It’s also a good idea to plant only a few acres or even just a single acre for your first harvest.

How Are Farmers Faring During COVID-19?

Farmers are used to a little unpredictability in each season, but the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing economic challenges are about as unpredictable as they come. With just about every aspect of normal life turned upside-down, including consumer behavior, how are farmers absorbing all of the coronavirus fallout?

For the most part, it turns out they’re absorbing it pretty well! The majority of our respondents (54%) claimed that the pandemic and economic upheaval haven’t affected their farming business much at all. A surprising 27% of respondents even told us that their business was doing better this year, while 19% of respondents are struggling more this year than last.

What Is Holding Farmers Back from Growing Hemp?

Almost every non-hemp farmer we surveyed told us they might consider farming hemp (or already were considering it). We can understand their hesitation. The hemp industry is still finding its footing; after all, it was illegal to grow hemp in the United States for decades!

would you consider hemp farming?

We learned that farmers have a wide range of concerns surrounding growing hemp. The most common concern was the market uncertainty surrounding hemp. The intense interest in CBD and its fellow cannabinoid, CBG, is still relatively new, but as scientific research on CBD and CBG continues to come out, we believe this interest will only grow.

 

biggest concerns over switching to hemp farmingTwo other major concerns our survey respondents noted was a lack of equipment and expertise. Many hemp farmers are still learning how to adapt their farming equipment to use on hemp (for reference, we actually wrote an entire article on hemp farming equipment). Farm equipment companies have been slow to develop equipment specifically for hemp farming, but we are seeing more and more CBD-specific hemp harvesters.

The lack of expertise in growing hemp is also a challenge that will ease over time. Even now, more and more agricultural organizations and hemp farmers are sharing their experiences and the results of their tests and experiments. Before planting hemp, it’s a good idea to seek information from the agricultural department in your state, reach out to fellow hemp farmers in your area, and consider hiring an agronomist with experience in hemp farming.

If you have any questions about which hemp seed strains to use on your farm, we hope you’ll contact us. Our friendly and knowledgeable representatives are happy to answer your questions and to find the best hemp seeds for your goals, budget, and climate.

Hemp and climate change: What’s the connection? Farmers are keen observers of the climate. Everything from changing weather patterns to water availability and soil quality directly impacts their ability to make a living. For this reason, climate change is already beginning to directly affect farmers. In 2020 alone, hemp farmers on the West Coast have dealt with an early and ferocious fire season. East Coast and Southern farmers are facing so many hurricanes, the normal naming convention ran through the complete alphabet by September. Even Midwest farmers aren’t safe, facing off against a fierce derecho in August. All this is to say that the climate is changing rapidly and farmers are on the front lines. Fortunately, hemp farmers may be able to step up and help fight climate change. How? By simply doing what they’re already doing: planting hemp.

Hemp is one of the most eco-friendly crops on the planet. It can absorb huge amounts of CO2, nourish the soil, and be used to create biodegradable and eco-friendly products. Why is hemp so good for the environment? Here are ten ways hemp will help save the world.

1. Hemp Absorbs Large Amounts of CO2

One of the most common greenhouse gasses driving climate change is carbon dioxide (CO2). CO2 is emitted by fossil fuels, livestock, and many industrial processes. Plants absorb CO2, which is why planting trees is one of the most popular ways to offset carbon emissions.

However, hemp can absorb carbon much more efficiently than trees. While it can take decades for newly planted trees to reach maturity, hemp can shoot up 13 feet in 100 days. Unsurprisingly, hemp can absorb more carbon per hectare than trees, making it an ideal carbon sink. Hemp can also grow just about anywhere, dramatically increasing the potential land that can be used to sequester carbon.

2. Hemp Nourishes the Soil

Many farmers have discovered that hemp can be a significant ally in nourishing and revitalizing their soil. The stalks and leaves of hemp plants are full of nutrients, which can be mixed back into the soil to bring overworked soil back to life. Planting hemp can also lower the need for farmers to add chemical fertilizers into their soil. Many farmers have added hemp into their crop rotation as a way to naturally nourish their fields between planting other cash crops. (It doesn’t hurt that hemp seed, fiber, and especially CBD flowers are cash crops in their own right.)

3. Hemp Prevents Erosion

Erosion is a natural process, where wind and water capture soil, often bringing it to nearby waterways. When large trees and plants are cleared and turned into fields, erosion can happen at a much faster rate. Erosion not only strips away topsoil, damaging fields and hurting crop yields, but it can also send chemical fertilizers and pesticides into waterways, hurting local wildlife and affecting drinking water.

Hemp can help prevent field erosion. Hemp roots grow deep and fast, helping to hold soil together and protecting it from the erosive effects of the elements. Hemp roots transfer nitrogen into the soil, which is a major component in chlorophyll.

 

4. Hemp Detoxifies Soil

Chemical leaks and nuclear disasters can turn soil toxic for generations, making that land unusable for planting, grazing, or anything else. A special class of plants is known as hyperaccumulators. According to the EcoSciences blog, hyperaccumulators “…have the capacity to absorb metals and other toxins from the soil by metabolizing it through their roots, where it is then transferred and stored in their stems and leaves.”

Hemp happens to be one of the best hyperaccumulators in the world. Hemp bioremediation is a popular technique of planting hemp in order to draw toxins out of the soil. Farmers have used hemp soil remediation to clean up fields after chemical leaks from nearby factories, but perhaps the most famous example is of farmers planting hemp (among other hyperaccumulators) around the blast zone of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant to begin rehabilitating the soil.

5. No Pesticides Needed

Hemp is naturally resistant to many of the diseases and pests that threaten other cash crops. Hemp farmers, therefore, don’t need to use pesticides or herbicides on their hemp fields. Chemical pesticides and herbicides can harm insect populations beyond what the chemical is meant to destroy. They also often make their way into local water sources, where they can affect the local wildlife or contaminate drinking water.

6. Less Water Needed to Make Fabric

Water is becoming an increasingly scarce resource, especially as more regions across the country and the world face record-setting droughts. At the same time, some of the most popular cash crops require high amounts of water, which puts a strain on communities. To put some perspective on this, one of the most water-hungry plants is cotton.

Hemp, while not officially a drought-tolerant plant, does not require nearly as much water as many other high-water crops. In fact, according to the Hemp Foundation, while every pound of cotton requires 1,440 gallons of water, hemp typically needs half that much. Hemp can also produce double the fiber of cotton per acre. Switching to hemp cloth from cotton can help farmers better manage their water supply and save money on a resource that’s only going to become more expensive. (Learn more about hemp field irrigation to see which irrigation systems are the most efficient.)

7. Hemp Paper Can Eliminate Polluting Paper Processes

Cutting down trees for paper can eliminate forests, disrupting ecosystems and putting more carbon into the air. Even as more paper companies switch to regenerative forest management, the process of making paper from wood pulp is extremely dirty. Wood pulp must be bleached with chlorine (which releases a toxic substance called dioxin) and is often mixed with binders that release formaldehyde. In contrast, hemp pulp doesn’t need to be bleached and can be made with soy-based binders, according to HempBenefits.org.

Hemp paper is also of higher quality than paper made from trees. It’s stronger, thicker, and more durable. No wonder the vast majority of paper was made from hemp in America’s early history. (Why did we switch to tree-made paper? It’s a long story.)

8. Hemp Can Help Reduce Plastic Waste

We are beginning to recognize more and more that single-use plastic is choking our world. Every year, eight million metric tons of plastic waste finds its way into the ocean, killing seabirds and ending up in the stomachs of the fish that eventually land on our dinner plates. Hemp bioplastic is an alternative to plastics derived from petrochemicals. Hemp bioplastics not only eliminate the need to create more plastics from oil, but it is also fully biodegradable, unlike traditional plastic, which can take 450 years or more to break down.

9. Hemp Can Be Used in Building Materials

The building sector (buildings and construction) is one of the biggest polluters on the planet, contributing to 36% of annual greenhouse gas emissions. Hemp-derived building materials can cut down on the carbon emissions of the construction industry as well as promote more energy efficiency within homes.

Hemp can be used to make fiberboards that are stronger and lighter than wood, as well as soundproofing and insulating materials. It can replace wood and concrete and offer better thermal insulation, which will allow homeowners to use less energy to heat and cool their homes. The insulating power of hemp-derived materials will only become more important as summers become hotter and winters become colder in the future.

10. Hemp Biofuels

The world is hungry for energy, using an estimated 575 quadrillion Btu of energy in 2015. (that’s a lot.) However, many of our top energy sources, including petroleum and coal, contribute to climate change and degrade the environment.

Hemp offers a clean energy alternative. Oils and fats extracted from hemp seeds can be used to make biodiesel. After a few more processing steps, the hemp biodiesel can actually go into a car engine to fuel a car. In fact, according to the site Hemp Benefits, one acre of hemp yields 1,000 gallons or 3,785 liters of fuel.

According to the Ministry of Hemp, hemp can also be turned into ethanol, which is traditionally derived from food crops, like corn and barley. Given that hemp can grow quickly in nearly any environment and requires less water than many other crops, hemp-derived ethanol can also be a sustainable alternative to traditional ethanol.

Considering that California’s governor recently announced that all new gasoline-powered cars would be banned in California by 2035, car manufacturers may want to start looking to hemp to fuel America’s next vehicle fleet.

Is Hemp the Solution to Climate Change?

Now that you’ve learned about hemp and climate change, do you believe hemp will help save the world? Hemp can certainly help provide more eco-friendly materials in a variety of industries, nourish and protect the soil, and sequester a lot of carbon, but hemp can’t save the world alone. Hemp is only one of many tools we can deploy to transition away from fossil fuels and other pollutants. Farmers have a strong role to play in the battle against climate change, as they are some of the most affected people when temperatures rise and the storms come. Hemp can be a highly lucrative crop, which is why many farmers initially decide to give it a try, but perhaps its climate-combatting credentials will also be a decisive factor in farmers choosing to grow hemp.

Ready to try growing hemp? Contact us today.

This incredibly versatile plant has thousands of uses, from hemp building materials and hemp paper to hemp clothing and CBD cosmetics.

This incredibly versatile plant has thousands of uses, from hemp building materials and hemp paper to hemp clothing and CBD cosmetics.