You've probably noticed by now the ever-increasing prevalence of CBD products in your day-to-day life. Whether it's on the shelf in a drugstore, infused into beauty products, or even in your dog's treats, CBD-based products are pretty much everywhere lately.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol, or CBD for short, is a non-psychoactive compound found in marijuana that many people are claiming has almost miracle-like properties. Studies have found that the substance is effective in treating childhood epilepsy, as well as being useful for curing insomnia, anxiety, and some symptoms of chronic pain. However, many of its purported therapeutic properties remain largely unproven.
Where Do Farmers Come into This?
CBD comes from the hemp plant, an agricultural staple since the days of the Ancient Egyptian Pharaohs. Hemp was banned in the US in the 1930s due to its similarities to marijuana and was only federally legalized again just last year with the passing of the 2018 Farm Act. This legislation blew open an entirely new market, and US farmers have been quick to jump on the bandwagon.
Data gathered by the USDA shows that industrial hemp is the fastest growing crop in the US, with an increase of 368% compared with last year's figures. To put that in context, the next fastest-growing crop was maple sap, which saw an increase of 83% between 2018 and 2019.
What Makes Hemp So Attractive for Farmers?
Putting the massive demand for CBD to one side, hemp is a hugely desirable crop for farmers to cultivate for a variety of reasons. It's very easy to cultivate, its fibers can be used for making paper and fabric among other things, but most importantly, it represents a huge increase in crop yield and profitability for farmers when compared with other traditional crops.
Will Brownlow, a Kentucky farmer who recently started cultivating hemp, told Quartz in 2018 that one acre of soybeans could get him around $500, but an acre of hemp could yield as much as $30,000. Given that the average farm size in the US is 444 acres, that's an eye-watering increase in yield.
With 2019 being the first full year of hemp legalization, and with CBD demand at an all-time high, it's fair to say that we can expect some huge gains from hemp farmers across the US.
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