Hemp interest out there in the South and throughout the US has been increasing. With such developments, small-time farmers find it hard to compete. Small-time farms have no access to federal loans until the 2018 Farm Bill was implemented which saw the removal of hemp that has less than 0.3% THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) content from the Controlled Substances List.
In Kentucky, around 5% of the total 80,000 farms have an area of less than 10 acres as mentioned in a blog about CBD oil, cannabis and vaporizers benefits and effects. And while small farmers are doing their best to survive from specialized hemp products such as CBD oil and hemp products, competing in a massively growing market seems really challenging.
A Joint Effort
Tony Silvernail, a newbie hemp grower who started growing hemp in 2018, thinks that this problem can be solved by establishing an organic hemp cooperative as a means of providing sustainable solutions. By combining their expertise, total land areas, and equipment, they can somehow compete in the competitive market while lowering their overall investment.
This plan allowed him and 15 other farmers to form the Kentucky Organic Hemp Cooperative, which is considered the first organic hemp cooperative in the south.
A Possible “Gold Rush”
The cooperative, albeit new, could become a protective nest that keeps its members protected despite the shaking market. Instead of tending to their own land using their own tools, seeds, and labor force, farmers will be taking much less risk by investing just a tiny portion in their cooperative’s acreage.
Alice Collins, a member of the cooperative who used to participate in the Department of Agriculture’s pilot program, said that the cooperative will be beneficial for those who want to grow small amounts of hemp while taking advantage of bulk purchase and processing. That said, it’s designed to help small-time farmers.
According to Silvernail, the full details of the cooperative aren’t hammered out yet. However, they already have elected board members back in March.
Silvernail is doing his best to help small farmers obtain their organic certification before the harvest in September. He pointed out that most farms, instead of making a transition from conventional ones, plant on undisturbed parcels of land, referring to them as “organic by neglect”.
Since it will take three years for industrial farms to transition to organic certification, the total number of certified organic hemp farms in the US is quite low. As such, he concluded that going organic could very well become the next gold rush.
Some of the members hope that they can grow fiber and grain someday. However, their main focus as of the moment is to grow exclusively for CBD, hoping that they can make around $20 to $50 for every pound. Silvernail mentioned a number of possibilities, particularly in the online market for their CBD oil products.
For the members of the cooperative, the idea of going cooperative, along with the possibility that the hemp industry will grow, is far more advantageous than the risks it carries. For now, it’s all talk about the potential, but once that potential kicks in, living a stable life off hemp farming can be achieved.