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Forget soybeans, U.S. farmers rush to plant hemp

Video Credit: Reuters - Politics - Duration: 02:18s - Published < > Embed
Forget soybeans, U.S. farmers rush to plant hemp

Forget soybeans, U.S. farmers rush to plant hemp

With commodity grain prices painfully low due to big surpluses and the U.S.-China trade war, farmers with a taste for risk are seeking profits by planting industrial hemp, a crop that was illegal in the United States until recently.

Havovi Cooper and Julie Ingwersen report.

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Forget soybeans, U.S. farmers rush to plant hemp

What do this scooter... a jar of honey... And this shampoo have in common.

They are all made from hemp, a crop that was illegal to grow in the U.S - until recently - but now farmers can't get enough of it..

SOUNDBITE ERIC STEENSTRA, PRESIDENT, VOTE HEMP SAYING: "It was considered to be the same as marijuana, even thought its a different variety of the plant that you cant really get high from, but in 2018, Congress included a provision that removed hemp from the controlled substance act and then allowed states and the USDA to regulate it as a agricultural crop." And what some are calling - an agrarian gold rush - took off...with sales of hemp in the U.S. reaching 1.1 billion dollars last year.

SOUNDBITE ERIC STEENSTRA, PRESIDENT, VOTE HEMP SAYING: "There are about 25,000 different products that you can make from hemp- everything from building materials to clothing to foods, body care and even tinctures and oils and it can be used as a health supplement.

" That potential for profits is driving farmers into hemp, says Reuters Correspondent Julie Ingwersen SOUNDBITE JULIE INGWERSEN, REUTERS CORRESPONDENT SAYING: "We've spoken to some processors who say hemp can bring in 750$/acre.

I've seen estimates from Pennsylvania where it could bring 300$/acre.

Those numbers are a lot higher than say the 30-50$/acre you can get for growing wheat or grain.

The hope is that industrial hemp can provide an avenue toward profitability for some of these farmers that are suffering from huge surpluses and low prices and basically trying to keep your family farms afloat." SOUNDBITE RICK GASH, HEMP GROWER, SAYING: "Theres about a 150 acres of Gash land out here." Jumping in on the craze - are first time hemp farmers like Rick Gash- who owns land in Augusta Kansas... SOUNDBITE RICK GASH, HEMP GROWER, SAYING: "Now we're growing hemp.

So this has been a horse patch for the last 9 years.

Good thing about hemp is that it grows in pretty much any soil except for clay." But there are also plenty of challenges... Hemp seeds are costly.

Special equipment is needed for harvesting hemp... while the crops flowers which produce high value medicinal CBD oil are typically harvested by hand.

All reasons why experts warn that until more research is done on hemp production-- it should not be viewed as a sure thing...but as another crop for farmers to add to their rotation.




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