7 Economic Benefits of Hemp
In 2019, the U.S. industrial hemp market size was worth approximately $4.71 billion and is expected to grow even more in the coming years.
With the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, many states quickly adopted state laws for hemp cultivation and processing. Hemp has brought versatility to our agricultural market and created numerous jobs and business opportunities.
Here are seven economic benefits of hemp.
1. Hemp Provides Farming Opportunities
Since the 2014 Farm Bill, local state agricultural programs gave many farmers the opportunity to experiment with the cultivation of hemp. And when hemp was finally legalized under federal law in 2018, many signed up for growing licenses to take advantage of this new industrial crop.
By 2019, the number of hemp farms quadrupled with over 500,000 acres of licensed farms. A single acre of hemp can produce the same amount of fiber as two acres of cotton. Especially in states where agriculture plays a central role, hemp is an excellent option. It’s an economic boon for farmers, providing opportunities for growth and profit.
2. Hemp Requires Less Space & Water
While 5,000 gallons of water are required to make 2.2 pounds of cotton, it takes just 700 gallons of water to create 2.2 pounds of hemp. Not to mention, hemp fiber is 10 times stronger than cotton.
Farmers don’t need to leave much space between industrial hemp plants either. The average space between each plant is about four to six inches, creating room to grow more crops.
3. Hemp Protects Against Soil Erosion
Hemp as a rotation crop is a soil-corrector, meaning this easy-to-grow plant adds nitrogen back into the soil and increases viability. Topsoil degradation is one of the largest issues facing the future of American farming. The intelligence of utilizing cycle crops instead of nutrient-depleting mono-crop agriculture is a no-brainer.
Our national commitment to sustainable farming and food systems should be a matter of implementing the very best practices. Ignoring hemp and other rotation crops may impose widespread unsustainability.
4. Hemp Is a Healthy Food Source
Hemp is the only plant in existence that can feed you, clothe you, house you, and soothe you. Furthermore, it is perfectly safe, with no real side effects. Even non-controversial foods like peanuts, red meat, breath mints, and apples are worse for your health than hemp, (or at least not as healthy).
Hemp hearts, hemp leaves, and hemp seeds are some of the healthiest known foods.
5. Hemp for Habitat Preservation
It only takes 3-4 months for a hemp plant to grow to harvest. Using it everywhere we can, the hemp crop could significantly decrease the amount of deforestation which is destroying habitats and threatening the natural balance of the global ecosystem.
Hemp can be used to manufacture the majority of materials that make our homes and essential items like paper. Better yet, hemp paper can be recycled and reused seven to eight times, while tree-based paper can only be recycled three times.
6. Hemp Breaks Down Pollutants
Hemp displays powerful uptake capability for radioactive materials and heavy metals: it is useful in bioremediation projects, even as a soil-restorative agent to clean up the waste site at Chernobyl. Superfund sites around the United States would surely benefit. There are currently more than 1,300 Superfund sites in this country.
7. Hemp Produces Biodegradable Materials
Practically everything plastic could just as well be made from hemp. If we had utilized hemp this way from the beginning, perhaps the beaches and oceans of the world would not be covered in non-degrading plastics.
Plastic is made from fossil fuels that need to be drilled for and extracted from the earth in processes which present their own set of environmental problems and challenges. Hemp science advances every year, and given time, it has been shown that hemp used as a biofuel could largely replace conventional plastics.
While these seven economic benefits illustrate the wide array of possibilities, hemp isn’t exactly new—it’s rooted in our history. Hemp was fundamental to the development of the U.S. and still is.