Washington farmers intend to plant more than 6,000 acres of hemp this year after planting just 140 acres last year and 175 acres in 2017, the Capital Press reports. In 2018, the hemp crop was grown by the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and the majority of the hemp grown in 2017 was also by one farm.
The massive increase in Washington hemp crops comes after state officials approved hemp cultivation for CBD oil production. Since the April reforms, the state Agriculture Department has licensed 35 new growers, 21 of which also obtained a processing license. The department is reviewing another 20 to 25 applications. According to state data, the state issued 11 hemp cultivation licenses in 2018.
Despite the increased interest, Washington’s industry is scant compared to neighboring Oregon where 1,342 growers are licensed to plant 46,219 acres of hemp this year – up from 7,808 acres in 2018. Other states are also showing massive licensing increases following the passage of the federal Farm Bill last year, which removed hemp from the federal drug schedule. Tennessee has issued more than 2,600 licenses this year after issuing just 226 last year and most of the 2019 licenses are for fewer than five acres.
Industrial Hemp Association of Washington lobbyist Bonny Jo Peterson said she expects even more licenses to be issued in Washington, adding that she is “completely overwhelmed with everything going on, but at the same time excited.” However, she predicts there will be an oversupply.
“I’ve been saying that all along. Like with any industry, there will be an over-saturation,” she said in the report, adding that the infrastructure for the more industrial uses – such as products from fiber and seeds – “isn’t there like it is for CBD.”
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