Updated: Dec 21, 2019
After the 2018 Farm Bill was signed into law, fully legalizing the growing and sale of hemp, thousands of America’s farmers and entrepreneurs wanted to “get in on the action” and grow hemp.
It was the passing of this Farm Bill that led to an explosion of interest in growing the plant.
When I asked many why, a common response was “I want to grow hemp, because I can.” Many believed that since hemp had been illegal and was now legal, the financial rewards would be tremendous.
While most farmers who had experience in growing other crops sought to evaluate the economics of growing hemp, most hemp growers who were new to farming didn’t. They just assumed that there would be a market not only for CBD but also for hemp seeds and fiber.
Growing hemp was banned in the US along with marijuana in 1937. The growing of hemp was legalized during World War II for the war effort and then after the end of the war, hemp became illegal to grow once again. Because it was illegal for more than 70 years, there haven’t been any commercial uses nor markets for hemp fiber or any derivatives of the hemp plant in the US. In other parts of the world during the same 70+ year period, hemp remained an important agricultural crop for both traditional uses such as paper or rope as well as new applications such as extruded plastics.
Over the past few years, potential uses of hemp fiber have been the subject of numerous news reports. Potential uses of hemp fiber include rope, textiles, clothing, shoes, food, paper, bioplastics, and insulation.
After the signing into law of the 2018 Farm Bill, most hemp growers, or those who wanted to grow hemp, assumed that a viable market for hemp fiber would develop quickly. This hasn’t been the case, and so far not much in the way of a commercial market for hemp fiber in the US has developed.
But, recent news from Los Angeles provides a “glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.” The Los Angeles-based clothing manufacturer, Recreator, signed a contract to purchase hemp fiber from Nebraska-based Bastcore.
Recreator has developed a niche market in producing eco-friendly clothing. The company will initially use the hemp-derived fabric to primarily manufacture t-shirts.
Bastcore is a raw hemp processor that purchases hemp from farmers and then processes it into end products, including textiles. Bastcore primarily purchases hemp from farmers in Colorado, Kentucky, and Minnesota. The company has also indicated that it intends to purchase hemp fiber from growers in North Carolina and New York.
In announcing the sourcing agreement, Recreator’s CEO, Matt McClain stated, “This partnership should encourage rural communities to reinvest in natural fibers and textile production. We are excited to show the pull-through capacity of Recreator by implementing Bastcore’s American-grown and proceed hemp fiber into our premium apparel line.”
Bastcore’s CEO Julien Lupien also stated, “This fiber supply contract markets a historic milestone in the U.S. hemp industry, and particularly for American made hemp textiles…”
We’re hopeful that Bastcore’s announcement leads to many other manufacturers not only identifying other uses of hemp fiber but also beginning to purchase hemp fiber in commercial quantities.
While the objective of most hemp farmers is the growing of the plant as a source of CBD and not fiber, we’re hopeful that Bastcore’s example will be followed by dozens if not hundreds of other companies throughout the US beginning to purchasing commercial quantities of hemp fiber for the manufacture of a variety of products.