About 65% of U.S. hemp farmers lack a buyer for their crop this season, leaving them few alternatives, according to a July survey by Whitney Economics. Hemp has less infrastructure than other crops, so farmers cannot rely on selling their crop to a local grain elevator.
“People entered in on speculation,” said Chase Hubbard, hemp commodities analyst at The Jacobsen, a price reporting agency. “The results could be tragic for some small farmers.”
The 2018 Farm Bill coincided with a boom in the market for food, drink and cosmetic products laced with CBD, an industry that Wall Street firm Cowen & Co has estimated to grow to $16 billion by 2025.
Enticed by projections that hemp would bring $750 in profits per acre – well above the $150 or less from a typical acre of soybeans – farmers placed their bets on a crop that had been illegal for most of their lifetimes.
Last April, as farmers planted, a pound of hemp biomass sold for about $40. Now, as farmers harvest and take their crops to market, the same amount sells for $18-$25, according to PanXchange, a commodities platform.