Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Offsite Post: ‘Is There Hope in Hemp for Southern Agriculture?’

The rural areas of the States have fallen on hard times:

Starting in the 1980s, the nation’s basket cases were its urban areas—where a toxic stew of crime, drugs and suburban flight conspired to make large cities the slowest-growing and most troubled places.

Today, however, a Wall Street Journal analysis shows that by many key measures of socioeconomic well-being, those charts have flipped. In terms of poverty, college attainment, teenage births, divorce, death rates from heart disease and cancer, reliance on federal disability insurance and male labor-force participation, rural counties now rank the worst among the four major U.S. population groupings (the others are big cities, suburbs and medium or small metro areas).

In fact, the total rural population—accounting for births, deaths and migration—has declined for five straight years.

Part of this is due to the disruption of the local farm economy.  Its focus has been mostly global rather than the traditional task of meeting the needs of a household and their neighbors:

The Farm Belt is hurtling toward a milestone: Soon there will be fewer than two million farms in America for the first time since pioneers moved westward after the Louisiana Purchase.

Across the heartland, a multiyear slump in prices for corn, wheat and other farm commodities brought on by a glut of grain world-wide is pushing many farmers further into debt. Some are shutting down, raising concerns that the next few years could bring the biggest wave of farm closures since the 1980s.

The U.S. share of the global grain market is less than half what it was in the 1970s. American farmers’ incomes will drop 9% in 2017, the Agriculture Department estimates, extending the steepest slide since the Great Depression into a fourth year.

But hope may be on the horizon.  The 2018 federal farm bill passed by Congress and signed by President Trump contains a provision that takes hemp off the federal government’s list of harmful drugs for the first time since 1937 (when it was lumped in with marijuana in the Marijuana Tax Act, https://ministryofhemp.com/hemp/history/), since it contains little to no THC, and allows farmers to cultivate it freely, provided the State in which they live will likewise allow its being planted.

Already 39 States have some sort of hemp farming pilot program in place under a provision of the previous federal farm bill passed in 2014: 

The versatility of hemp’s finished products is a source of great promise.  Not only could it allow more farmers to stay on the land, but its industrial applications could also bolster local, small-scale manufacturing for those who enjoy the mechanical arts. 

A wide range of products, including fibers, textiles, paper, construction and insulation materials, cosmetic products, animal feed, food, and beverages all may use hemp. The plant is estimated to be used in more than 25,000 products spanning nine markets: agriculture, textiles, recycling, automotive, furniture, food/nutrition/beverages, paper, construction materials and personal care.


The numbers being predicted in the hemp market help strengthen those promises:

The U.S. hemp market pulled in $820 million in sales in 2017, according to Hemp Business Journal. Because selling American hemp is still largely restricted, parts of the market are highly reliant on products imported from China and Canada. With growth projected at almost $2 billion by 2022, optimism that American growers can take a chunk of this market share is abundant.

A balanced, farm-based, local economy could thus potentially be restored in many places.  The shaded areas of this map show where hemp can be grown in the lower 48 States:  . . .


Holy Ælfred the Great, King of England, South Patron, pray for us sinners at the Souð, unworthy though we are!

Anathema to the Union!

No comments:

Post a Comment