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Over the past couple years, farmers have been looking to branch out their growing opportunities. As the prices of row crops fall, agronomists are desperate to improve their financial bottom line. Ever since the 2018 Farm Bill was passed, a number of growers have looked into the hemp industry to make a bang for their buck. Of course, growing hemp is not easy. It comes with its own baggage – farmers need to comply with certain rules for example, make sure that the hemp the grow and distribute is below the standard 0.3% THC. Initially, hemp fell into the same category as marijuana and was considered a controlled substance. But ever since the passing of this new bill, things have taken a turn for the better. Hemp has been declared an agricultural commodity!

Though this sounds like amazing news for all the growers and potential growers, there are some challenges that come with the opportunity.

Here are a few difficulties hemp growers face:

Insurance:

Before you take this any further, you have to go get familiar with the legal aspects involved. Farmers cannot just start growing hemp whenever they feel like, they need to sort out their insurance first. When compared to regular crops, farmers would normally never have to take permission. However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has issued a law that is put in place to ensure that farmers are growing hemp and not marijuana. As the government has also authorized a standard for THC, the psychoactive content in marijuana doesn’t fulfill the legal criteria. Though getting insured does help farmers in case of a natural disaster, many feel that they shouldn’t be paying four times the amount in insurance that they would’ve never paid to grow any other crop.

Green Rush:

Legalizing hemp and weed has led to an upsurge in taxation. Last year alone, the states that had legalized weed in the U.S made over $2.7 billion in taxes alone. Though this serves as revenue for the states, it comes out of the pockets of some very unhappy farmers. Many farmers believe that if hemp has been legalized, they shouldn’t have to pay taxes on it. And that too, in such large amounts. Though the taxes for hemp are much lower than that for marijuana, many farmers are agitated. The worst part is, they have to pay taxes on hemp that isn’t even grown for CBD purposes and might only be used in food or even creating clothes.

Improper infrastructure:

As we all know, hemp was only legalized a few years ago, the proper infrastructure to process the supply has still not been set in place. Though numerous growers have jumped on the hemp bandwagon, many have not thought the whole process through. While some have invested in hundreds of acres, others have decided to start small. The problem isn’t about how much they’re producing, it’s about what they will do once its ready.

Many producers have jumped into the business head first, with no pre-decided or signed contracts or even sellers who will take the bulk off their hands once its ready. The process of planting to harvesting takes about 90 days, which means farmers only have three months to figure out what they’ll do with their produce. Additionally, the scalability for processing isn’t put in place. This implies that there’s a small number of processors available to process the final hemp product and a very large supply that needs to be handled.

Regulatory Measures:

As the states have administered certain rules and regulations that must be followed, the USDA makes sure to check up on all hemp growers to ensure everything is done by the book. The interim rules passed in 2018 are meant to be assessed every two years after which any necessary changes or adjustments would be made. These assessments include checking up on the land where the hemp is grown, THC levels, requirements met on disposal, insurance, licensing as well as lab tests.

Many agriculturalists believe this to be a headache for the most part. They feel that since they are growing hemp legally, they shouldn’t be imposed with the same restrictions placed on marijuana growers and the standards followed by them. Hemp is completely different and should therefore, have different measures for assessment. Many people believe that with these strict rules, they often do not want to branch out. It’s almost as they they’re constantly treading on thin ice and any slight oversight could potentially land them with some criminal charges.

Building Connections:

With the newness of the hemp industry comes a lot of uncertainty. While the topic is so hyped up right now, those who wish to go into the industry need to be wise in their decisions. It seems that since the market is pretty hot and cold at the moment, every month a new company files for bankruptcy while simultaneously a few new ones pop up. For you to make a mark and actually survive in the hemp business, it is crucial to mingle with the right people and build the right contacts.

Building relationships with people can often be quite challenging since many individuals in the hemp industry are continuously taking on new jobs, quitting old ones, starting their own businesses and so on. It is important to find a reliable source and build a connection with the person and not the organization they work with.

If you think you have what it takes to get started, we’re all for it! Just make sure you do tons of research before you invest hundreds and thousands of dollars into a business you have absolutely no information about. Be smart and hustle wisely!

LA Weekly