After strong start, hemp farming in Nevada trying to find footing – Las Vegas Review-Journal

CARSON CITY — After immense growth in 2019, Nevada’s hemp industry is still searching for its footing amid the fallout from a change in federal law.

The number of certified growers in Nevada was cut nearly in half from 2019 to 2020, from 216 to 116, and the acreage of planted hemp fell by nearly 68 percent, down to roughly 1,600 acres, according to the Nevada Department of Agriculture.

“It ain’t no get-rich-quick scheme anymore,” Pahrump hemp grower Jim McCoy said.

The federal government gave the industry a green light when it passed the 2018 farm bill and authorized widespread growth of the plant, and Nevada farmers moved quickly to tap into the booming market of products containing CBD, the nonintoxicating compound found in cannabis plants.

The number of hemp growers in Nevada, where the industry was already legal under a limited pilot program, jumped from 115 to 216 in one year, while the total acreage of hemp planted more than quadrupled from 2018 to 2019, from 1,128 acres to 4,917.

But that federal law also meant that farmers across the country could start growing, too. And grow they did.

Before the 2018 farm bill, the U.S. had roughly 32,000 acres of hemp planted. By the end of 2019, that number had shot up to 146,000, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

That saturation of hemp products into the market sent the prices into a free fall. Prices of hemp biomass, essentially the whole plant chopped up, dropped nearly 80 percent from April 2019 to April 2020, from $38 per pound to just $8.10 per pound, according to a report from Hemp Industry Daily, which covers the hemp industry.

Now, farmers appear to be jumping off the hemp wagon.

McCoy had grown hemp outdoors in Amargosa Valley

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