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In 2018, the Farm Bill was officially passed. This opened the door to a new era of hemp farming and CBD and other cannabinoid cultivation — and with the massive market that’s since emerged, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is now seeking to understand its key factors.
They are doing so through a survey of 20,000 hemp farmers. The USDA received permission earlier this year to conduct the survey, and on Thursday, their National Agricultural Statistics Service announced that forms are nearly finalized. They will be completed either online or via mail.
What’s in the Survey?
Questions on the survey include:
- Farmers’ plans for producing hemp outdoors
- The planned acreage for cannabis operations
- Secondary uses for farmers’ crops
- Prices the farmers can fetch
- Whether the farmers are producing CBD extracts, smokable hemp, hemp grain intended for human consumption, seeds, and/or fibers
- Whether farmers are trimming their hemp crops by hand
- Whether they plan to perform terpene or cannabinoid extraction from their plants
- The size of their yields
- How they’ve obtained their clones or seeds
This set of questions will give the USDA the information needed to help them take the pulse of this highly active yet burgeoning industry.
Aside from simply attempting to understand what’s happening with hemp, the USDA also hopes to develop estimates for hemp production both at a state and national level.
They will likely conduct this survey every year.
The Categories of Hemp
The survey will include hemp grown both in the open and under cover of hoop houses, tunnels, greenhouses, etc.
The USDA has defined five categories for hemp produced in the open: grain, seed, flower, fiber, and others. There will be four categories for hemp produced under cover: seed, flower, clones or transports, or other.
The survey will ask similar questions for these different categories, including how much the farmer has harvested, the prices received, and demographic questions.
How Will the Hemp Survey Help?
According to the USDA’s video, this will help set benchmarks for land usage and production, which will help regulatory agencies, state governments, and others in the industry as they navigate the coming years.
The USDA will likely issue reports once they collect the data. These reports will describe how much grain, seed, fiber, and hemp flower was produced throughout 2021, the acreage required, and how much value those products brought farmers.
On October 1, the USDA will send a series of reminders and notices encouraging industry operators to help by filling out the survey. The agency states will need accurate information to guide their decision-making in this new industry.
All in all, the survey will require about 7,531 hours from its 20,000 participants — roughly 22.5 minutes per participant.
A Separate Survey for Hemp Businesses
In order to inform its decision-making on hemp businesses — including those selling CBD and other hemp products — the USDA also plans on completing another survey aimed at thousands of businesses.
The agency is collaborating with the University of Kentucky and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture to complete this survey. The goals include understanding the current production practices, costs, and marketing around hemp.
There is still an enormous amount to learn about the burgeoning hemp market. Despite not having all the answers, the USDA has proven a supportive partner for many states, approving their regulatory plans. They recently approved Colorado’s hemp regulation plan, which the state intends to move forward with to establish itself as a leader in the sector.
What It All Means
The USDA is still interested in learning about how hemp is grown, despite having already made key decisions around its regulation. The information collected from actual hemp farmers will hopefully give them critical insights into the reality of cultivation, allowing them to offer more helpful guidance and craft fair legislation.
The USDA met for the first time in January with stakeholders in the hemp industry to help learn about needs within the industry. The talk was reportedly productive, and in April, the USDA announced further progress via a collaboration with a chemical manufacturer that could lead to advancements in hemp-based cosmetics.
The results of this survey will have profound effects on hemp cultivation in the future — and if you’re a hemp farmer, your participation is equal to your voice in future regulations.