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Hemp Industry Celebrates Milestone as USDA’s Census of Agriculture Recognizes Hemp




The United States Department of Agriculture's Census of Agriculture has officially recognized hemp as a distinct category, according to insights provided by Joshua Bates, a USDA statistician. The 2022 Ag Census, released every five years, is lauded by hemp cultivators and stakeholders for providing comprehensive data that includes county-level information, offering a more holistic understanding of the industry.

Bates emphasized the crucial impact of the Census, stating in an interview with MJBizDaily, “The most prominent result is hemp data published at the county level, as well as the number of farms growing hemp, data that are not collected and available for the annual National Hemp Report.” This inclusion facilitates special tabulations and further research into the industry's overall health.

The Ag Census provides detailed breakdowns for field crops and nursery data, offering insights into hemp cultivation in 2022. The field crop statistics include the number of hemp farms, acreage, and pounds produced for various purposes such as fiber, floral (CBD and other cannabinoids), hemp grain, and other uses. Similarly, nursery crop data highlights the number of hemp farms, square footage, and specific categories like clones or transplants, complete grows, and seed farms.

However, challenges persist, with Jonathan Miller, general counsel of the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, expressing concerns about the lack of historical data, hindering a comprehensive understanding of trends. Miller attributed the decline in hemp growth to the absence of federal regulation for hemp-derived products, signaling the need for ongoing efforts by organizations like the U.S. Hemp Roundtable to advocate for oversight.

Last year's National Hemp Report noted a substantial decrease in industrial hemp acreage in 2022 compared to 2021, particularly in floral hemp acreage. The Census data revealed shifts in hemp production, indicating that floral hemp's dominance has decreased to slightly above 50%, compared to 2019 and 2020 when it accounted for 80-90% of production.

The decline in the number of farms and farmland, as highlighted by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack during the Census release event, prompts reflection on the industry's trajectory. Geoff Whaling, chair of the National Hemp Association, sees an opportunity to advocate for separate rules for industrial hemp growers and cannabinoid producers, citing the need for tailored regulations.

Hemp's inclusion in the Census is seen as a positive step, providing valuable insights into state and county-level data. Lukas Gilkey, co-founder of Hometown Hero CBD, expressed optimism, stating that hemp's growing role in the national economy is underscored by its inclusion. The data reflects Texas as a prominent player, leading in hemp farms for fiber, while states like North Dakota and South Dakota stand out in hemp for grain and overall farm numbers, respectively.

Geoff Whaling emphasized the potential of hemp, stating, “The fact that hemp is included in the Census is a recognition that this truly is one of America's commodities.” The industry hopes that this recognition will pave the way for tailored regulations, encouraging continued growth and innovation in the hemp sector.

Original authors: Kate Robertson and Andrew Long, MJBizDaily.

Sebastian is a passionate advocate of CBD's therapeutic potential, dedicating himself to exploring its diverse benefits. As a seasoned writer, he eloquently shares his insights and personal experiences with CBD, aiming to educate readers about its transformative power. His life's mission is promoting holistic wellness, with CBD at the heart of his advocacy.