The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the true value of America’s hemp market—and the numbers are telling. Hemp grown for flower, for instance, was much more valuable than hemp grown for industrial purposes. On the other hand, production levels are down, compared to numbers collected in 2018.
The survey also contained other nuggets of information, such as the fact that hemp producers in the U.S. are predominantly male and that it’s difficult to make a living in the industry without a side hustle.
The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service sought permission from the White House in July 2021 to conduct a survey of about 20,000 hemp farmers to help judge the industry’s size and demographics.
On February 17, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) released the results of the 2021 Hemp Acreage and Production Survey in its National Hemp Report. The survey collected data for hemp grown “in the open” and hemp grown “under protection.”
Industrial hemp growers planted 54,152 total acres for all purposes, and 33,480 acres of those were harvested. U.S. hemp production in the open was valued $712 million in total. Production of hemp that was grown under protection in the United States was valued at $112 million. The total area of hemp fields under protection totaled 15.6 million square feet.
“The release of this landmark report provides a needed benchmark about hemp production to assist producers, regulatory agencies, state governments, processors, and other key industry entities,” said NASS Administrator Hubert Hamer. “Not only will these data guide USDA agencies in their support of domestic hemp production, the results can also help inform producers’ decisions about growing, harvesting, and selling hemp as well as the type of hemp they decide to produce. The survey results may also impact policy decisions about the hemp industry.”
The 2021 Hemp Acreage and Production Survey collected various information including the total planted and harvested area, yield, production, and value.
Hemp grown for flower was most valuable versus other industrial purposes—worth $623 million (of $712 million) in the open and $64.4 million (of $112 million) under protection.
“The USDA has done a terrific job of responding to farmer concerns, but there are certain issues that have to be changed in the law to reduce the burdens on U.S. farmers,” Jonathan Miller, General Counsel of the U.S. Hemp Roundtable told High Times.
The USDA also noted that hemp industry growers are predominantly male, among other characteristics. The survey found that 82 percent of hemp producers are male. They also found that 52 percent of respondents reported that farming is their primary occupation—meaning only about half of them can sustain their livelihoods without a side hustle. The report also contains additional information about hemp producer characteristics, including years operating a farm, age, and race.
NASS provided the following highlights of the report—divided up by hemp grown in the open versus hemp grown under protection.
U.S. totals for hemp grown in the open in 2021 were:
Floral hemp production was estimated at 19.7 million pounds; utilized production totaled 15.7 million pounds. Area harvested for floral hemp was estimated at 15,980 acres. The average yield for floral hemp was estimated at 1,235 pounds per acre. The value of floral hemp totaled $623 million.Hemp grown for grain totaled 4.37 million pounds; utilized production totaled 3.96 million pounds. Area harvested for hemp grown for grain was estimated at 8,255 acres. The average yield for hemp grown for grain was estimated at 530 pounds per acre. The value of hemp for grain totaled $5.99 million.Hemp grown for fiber was estimated at 33.2 million pounds; utilized production totaled 27.6 million pounds. Area harvested for hemp grown for fiber was estimated at 12,690 acres. The average yield for hemp grown for fiber was estimated at 2,620 pounds per acre. The value of hemp grown for fiber totaled $41.4 million.Production of hemp grown for seed was estimated at 1.86 million pounds; utilized production totaled 1.68 million pounds. Area harvested for hemp grown for seed was estimated at 3,515 acres. The average yield for hemp grown for seed was estimated at 530 pounds per acre. The value of hemp grown for seed totaled $41.5 million.
Broken down by utilization, U.S. totals for hemp grown under protection in 2021 were:
Production of hemp for transplants and clones totaled 20.2 million plants; utilized production totaled 18.0 million plants. The value of hemp grown under protection for transplants and clones totaled $23.8 million.Production of floral hemp was estimated at 310,421 pounds; utilized production totaled 256,124 pounds. The value of floral hemp totaled $64.4 million.Hemp grown for seed totaled 4,059 pounds; utilized production totaled 3,121 pounds. The value of hemp grown for seed totaled $23.7 million.
Information about the regulations for growing hemp in the United States is available on the Agricultural Marketing Service’s Hemp Production webpage.