Indiana Hemp Farmland: The New Hoosier Cash Crop?
Indiana farmers are a great people: hardworking, resourceful, and resilient. They have persevered through many trade agreements with foreign nations (both good and bad). They have weathered economic highs and lows. They have adjusted their techniques to accommodate for climate change. Now, some are pivoting production to incorporate a new cash crop: hemp.
Both hemp and marijuana are from the same species of plant, cannabis sativa. Their identifying qualities come from their chemical composition, use, and cultivation. Marijuana is used for its psychotropic properties for medicinal or recreational purposes. Hemp is used in a variety of industries for many differing purposes. You cannot get high from hemp; it’s THC (chemical compound: delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol) content is too low. 1
Federal statute mandates that hemp contain no more than .3% concentration of THC. Indiana requires hemp be tested by the Office of Indiana State Chemist & Seed Commissioner (OISC) be tested for THC content. If the crop is determined to contain a concentration higher than .3%, it is deemed ‘hot’. ‘Hot’ crops must be either destroyed or used for fiber (upon appeal). The testing process is currently being fine-tuned, and regulatory guidelines are being establish for conformity between labs. 2
The guidelines are strict. Farmers must acquire a license before growing. The crop must be tested for THC content. The OISC must be notified of the harvest date. Farmers must partner with a research advisor from a university.3 And possibly, a contract may need to be established with a buyer before even being issued a license to grow.4
“Growers need to look at this as a crop with a lot of risk with it,” said Bob Waltz, the state chemist and seed commissioner who is overseeing hemp in Indiana. “That’s the reality and I think there is a lot of promise, but a lot of homework needs to be done if we want to grow it successfully.” 4
But why are Hoosier farmers so interested in starting hemp farms in Indiana?
- It’s common knowledge that yields from recent years have not been as profitable as desired. That lack of income invites innovation.
- Indiana soil is exceptional. And while we may not be particularly fond of our weather, it can be favorable for certain crops.
- Indiana’s combination of rich soil and accommodating climate makes it the perfect place to grow hemp.
- If successful, the rewards could be incredible.
Hoosiers are known for their tenacity. This new opportunity of cultivating hemp could be a boon for Indiana agriculture. Due diligence is required in this new market, and farmers can expect hurdles & regulatory tape. There are pros and cons when you compare the labor and input costs for corn and soybeans vs. hemp farmland. Who knows? Maybe, this will even energize a new generation to embrace farming as their grandparents once did.
- Chart: https://www.tennesseehempclones.com/post/hemp-vs-corn-crop-value-chart-comparison
What is the Farm Bill?
Indiana Hemp Regulatory Website
Indiana Hemp Frequently Asked Questions