Hemp farmers dealing with glut in the market, uncooperative weather

Published: Nov. 5, 2020 at 7:41 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - As many states around the country relax laws on cannabis, laws on hemp, marijuana’s federally legal cousin, are relaxing as well.

That’s leading to more competition in the market, and driving prices down.

Hemp looks like same plant, but doesn’t produce THC, the chemical in marijuana that gets people high.

Competition isn’t the only issue hemp farmers had to deal with this year as they finish their harvest.

Clarence Laub was among the first in the state to harvest hemp when North Dakota rolled out a pilot program in 2016. He says this year may have been the most challenging.

“We got about a quarter what we usually do, just because we were so dry basically from planting  to the third week in july, we had maybe a total of a quarter inch of rain,” said Clarence Laub, hemp farmer.

To compound the problem, Laub says his crop is worth about 30 cents on the dollar what he got for it the first year.

“I think it has a lot to do with a lot more states coming on with the hemp. We’re getting to have a lot more people out there producing and we start to overproduce it and we kind of ruin it for everybody,” said Laub.

He used to take great pains to protect his higher-value CBD seedlings, but with his margins slashed, he says that’s not possible anymore.

“It’s almost something you have to commercially do, if people want to put it in by hand, it really isn’t feasible at this point unless you have some good markets you can go to right away,” said Laub.

Laub says he’s still going to keep hemp in rotation, and hopes future consumer demands help prices rebound.

Laub says this is the first year crop insurance was available for the hemp affected by drought, but because it was so expensive he didn’t use it.

He says he hopes those prices start to drop as insurance companies get more comfortable with it.

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