The year began with insightful words and promise for the hemp industry from Secretary Vilsack. Throughout the year hemp research proposals and white papers became a pattern. Numerous and assorted studies on hemp have been shared through scholarly articles, reports, and journals across the globe. Higher institutions are investing their time developing hemp curriculum and researching parts of the plant; from stalks to molecular compounds. This opens a wide range of opportunities for industrial applications, biotechnology, precision agriculture, additive manufacturing, feedstock, and animal feed. The combined work of actionable effort, advocacy, and collaboration will bring hemp to the forefront of being America’s next natural resource. We are pleased to share a 2022 review in hemp. 

Hemp in Higher Institutions and Data Reporting 

Hemp was recognized by the Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, in his speech at Lincoln University, an HBCU in Missouri in February. In his speech, he spoke about the agricultural funding opportunities for farmers, ranchers, and forest owners through the Partnership for Climate-Smart Commodities. The USDA’s objective is to combat the climate crisis by funding projects that will help reduce greenhouse gases and sequester carbon. Secretary Vilsack mentioned hemp as a potential renewable resource for aviation fuel because of the University’s implementation of the hemp institute. Lincoln University is one of several HBCUs investing in hemp research. 

Another HBCU participated in hemp research and was awarded grant funding to pursue hemp in aquaculture feed. Executive Director of our organization, Erica Stark, is an external advisor for the SUSHI Project; a 5-year hemp research project at Central State University. The SUSHI (Sustainable Use of Safe Hemp Ingredient) project was awarded $10M towards aquaculture feed using hemp. Their project not only supplies nutritional feed to fish, but it also supports an indigenous tribe, the Menominee nation, promoting inclusivity and economic opportunities. Hemp grain feed has the potential for domestic feed for livestock due to the easily digestible protein, omega 3 & 6 fatty acids, and essential amino acids. Incorporating hemp grain as feed will diversify the hemp market and provide another revenue source for the industry.  

Toward the end of February, the USDA release the first Hemp Acreage and Production Survey The survey collected information on the following: Total planted and harvested area, yield, production, and value. The report covered floral, grain, fiber, and seed hemp production, producers’ demographic (sex, age, ethnicity, and operational experience), and more. The release of the survey gave the industry an inside scope of American hemp production. This data can contribute to the maximum size of opportunity for hemp and its industry stakeholders. 

Universities such as University of Kentucky, Oregon State University, Cornell University, Penn State University, Texas A&M University, and many more have adopted hemp into their curriculum covering diverse topics such as agronomy, genetics, cultivation, etc. From in the classroom, out into the field, and into a lab, we support hemp education and research in all forms. 

The Year of Collaboration  

The National Hemp Association has communicated and collaborated with other hemp-focused organizations such as IND Hemp, Agricultural Hemp Solutions, Hemp Feed Coalition, and several others. Uniting with other hemp organizations will deliver and solidify our message on industrial hemp benefits, particularly on the Grain and Fiber Hemp Exemption to Congress. Industry stakeholders are advocating for a Grain and Fiber Hemp Exemption due to costly fees, overbearing regulations and restrictions, and removing the stigma surrounding cannabis. Support of this exemption echoed throughout the industry, and we could not be more thankful for the supportive voices of advocates.  

Our organization would be difficult to exist without our supporters and members. In the beginning of the year, we added a member benefit to learn more about the faces behind companies. We created an interview series called “In Conversation With,” where we interview our members and do a deep dive of their company or organization. From construction, flooring, to food, and farming, we interviewed industry experts and pioneers. 

To further support our mission, our standing committees have been invited to speak and attend a few events this year. The Standing Committee for Social Equity was invited to speak and participate at the 5th Annual Indigenous Conference held and hosted by Winona’s Hemp and Anishinaabe Agriculture Institute. This event hosted inspirational speakers and industry experts that spoke on textiles, farming, and indigenous culture. We heavily support the indigenous community and continue to advocate for inclusivity, equality, and equity.  

The Standing Committee of Hemp Organizations attended World Ag Expo and our organization was represented by USHBA, Agricultural Hemp Solutions, TN Growers Coalition, CA Hemp Association, and Hemp Harvest Works. They shared educational information on hemp food, fiber, equipment, and building materials to the attendees. In July, Marc Grignon, Vice Chair of SCOHO, represented NHA at the USDA Hemp Production Hearing in DC. There is such importance to share valuable information with the public and those in Congress about the benefits of industrial hemp and our mission to do so, whether it is on American soil or international.  

Our latest standing committee, The Standing Committee of International Hemp Organizations (SCIHO), has had several successes regarding hemp exportation, international cannabis education, and developing global business relations. SCIHO co-chair, Cree Crawford of Chem-ID, launched a $52M state-of-the-art educational facility; Cannabis: Science, Education, and Training Center in Costa Rica. Holly Bell, also co-chair of SCIHO and VP of Regulatory Affairs for Flora Growth, teamed up with an American cannabis logistic company to ship cannabis products internationally; which include shipping to countries like the EU, South America, and the UK. NHA supports expanding the hemp market not only domestically, but internationally. 

Geoff Whaling, Chair of NHA, has made hemp a conversation starter on the steps of the Capitol, UN General Assembly, South America, and in Rome, to name a few. Hemp with its multi-faceted benefits can be adopted in any topic of conversation such as; construction, food security, regenerative agriculture, carbon sequestration, soil remediation, textiles, and additive manufacturing. NHA making a presence at events that surround climate change, food security, and sustainability, impacts our industry, and legitimizes the promise and potential of this crop. Due to our outreach and active participation, we have become the first non-profit hemp organization to be members of FACA, the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance, founding members of the Ag Bioeconomy, and an alliance partner with the Cool Farm Alliance. We will continue to advocate hemp as a competitive commodity and normalize it both within and outside the industry. 

Great Year for Grants 

With a total investment of $3.1B to fund 141 projects for climate-smart commodities from the USDA, hemp was listed as a commodity for several projects. In the first funding pool, projects that had hemp listed were awarded up to $220M. From feedstock, to fuel, to regenerative agricultural practices, and socio-economic job opportunities, each project had innovative proposals that implemented hemp. NHA and our sister foundation, Hemp Innovations Foundation, are involved in a grant that focuses on water quality in Decatur, IL. Hemp is involved in this pilot as a crop that will be planted within the targeted sub-watersheds and land parcels. Our objective of planting hemp will demonstrate the positive environmental and economic benefits for the City of Decatur. 

The Hemp Innovations Foundation (HIF), our sister organization, is a 501 (c)3 nonprofit organization that is dedicated to growing the industry through education and research. HIF awarded $15,000 to the Hemp Recycles project. “This research will pursue recyclability testing of hemp fibers used for paper making. The goal is to collect data that will determine potential long-term environmental impacts of using hemp-based paper rather than relying on wood fiber papers that perpetuate practices leading to deforestation and disruption of ecosystems.” HIF is raising money to fund other research such as hemp biochar research that will be conducted by Desert Research Institute and a film titled One Plant, a six-part film series exploring numerous ways cannabis can reshape our world for the better. 

In Conclusion 

Hemp has come a long way from the days of prohibition to research pilot programs, and now the commercial market. We foresee hemp advocacy and adoption in many avenues and research projects, particularly in the grain and fiber sector. Hemp fiber production companies like IND Hemp, Bast Fibre Technologies, HempWood, Black Buffalo 3D, and Tiger Fiber Hemp will be the innovative hemp fiber companies to track and hopefully open the market for textiles, additive manufacturing, and bedding. Hemp food companies like Victory Hemp Foods and Grounded Foods will create a path to normalizing hemp in our nutritional diet and market shelves. Let us continue to push progress and grow! 

Anna Chanthavongseng – Assistant Executive Director