Going into its fourth harvest, industrial hemp industry still facing growing pains

Submitted by Norm on Sat, 10/14/2017 - 21:41

Colorado-grown hemp makes up more than half of U.S. domestic hemp production, said Duane Sinning, assistant director of Colorado Department of Agriculture’s plant industry division, and interest in the crop has grown exponentially since it became legal. The market is worth millions of dollars, but it’s difficult to get a more specific idea of its value because the industry is changing so rapidly and prices fluctuate so quickly, Sinning said.

This year, farms around the state are expected to harvest up to 9,000 acres of hemp, compared with just 200 acres in 2014. The harvest yielded 5,900 acres last year and 2,200 acres in 2015, he said.

But growers looking to cash in on the benefits of growing hemp face a laundry-list of challenges when entering the market: murky federal legality, lack of infrastructure, and uncertainty about American demand for hemp and hemp products. Growers can’t even get crop insurance.