Hemp Licenses Up, Acreage Down Starting Out 2021

Hemp Fields
  • At the end of 2020, it was estimated that a total of 375,000 acres were used to grow hemp, down significantly from the year before.
  • Despite this finding, there was a record number of hemp cultivation licenses issued last year.
  • As the COVID pandemic follows us into 2021, it’s expected that the numbers will continue to trend in their respective directions.

For the first time since the 2014 Farm Bill was signed into law and established the national hemp pilot program, hemp acreage across the nation has decreased. A combination of the coronavirus pandemic, regulatory uncertainty, and a 2019 oversupply is taking the blame for this decrease.

By the end of 2020, an estimated 375,000 acres were being used to grow hemp. This is down from the 511,000 acres that were being used in 2019. Of the 375,000 acres licensed for hemp growth in 2020, less than a third were even planted.

Despite this decrease in hemp acreage, the number of registered licenses has been on the rise. 

2020 witnessed a record 20,000 hemp cultivation licenses being issued throughout the nation; up from the 17,000 issued in 2019. However, this shouldn’t be confused with the idea that 20,000 individuals were licensed to grow hemp (many farming companies apply for multiple licenses). Knowing this information, you can’t help but wonder why the hemp acreage numbers are down.

More farmers, less land. This has been the philosophy for hemp farmers in the recent past, as this method helps them save on investments into land and genetics. It’s too soon to tell how many hemp farmers there will be in 2021, but a slight decrease can be expected as soon the pandemic continues to knock around the economy.

Some positive notes for hemp heading into this year:

  • There are more than 3,000 CBD brands existing in the market. This is a huge milestone for the entire hemp industry that is still considered to be in its infancy. If nothing else, it proves the amount of interest that exists for cannabis and its products.
  • Many leaders in the hemp industry believe that 2021 will be a big year for hemp and cannabis despite the challenges that occurred the past couple of years.
  • CBD products have been the highlight of the hemp industry so far and are responsible for a lot of its growth. This is a trend that is expected to continue for several years to come. CBD product sales in 2020 reached a total of $1.9 billion.
  • Beyond just CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids, there has been an increased interest in hemp fiber products throughout the supply chain. Hemp products have many unique uses, and are valuable in several different industries.

2021 will definitely be an interesting year for hemp, especially with the upcoming change of power in the United States.

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