Avoiding Over-Centralization of American Hemp
As we step into a brand new American era of industrial hemp, it's important to focus on the core socioeconomic promises of this plant resource - many of which simply aren't possible with over-centralization.
With passage of the 2018 Farm Bill and the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 making hemp farming federally legal again in America after close to a century, it’s absolutely essential we keep the small-to-medium hemp farm and business communities from being gobbled up or destroyed by gargantuan - some would argue out of control - corporate interests.
Introduction: The Anxiety Builds...
On the rain-soaked afternoon of December 12th, eight days before the signing of the 2018 Farm Bill by President Trump, we received a huge list of links to ubber-excited news releases and recently published articles from a few readers.
Here’s a smidgen of the headlines:
“Hemp, Inc. Announces Farm Bill Could Drive $20 Billion Hemp Industry”
“Congress Releases Farm Bill Report that Would End 'Era of Hemp Prohibition'
- Natural Products INSIDER
“Senate Passes Compromise Farm Bill that Legalizes Industrial Hemp Production”
- Augusta Free Press
“Senate Passes Farm Bill and Oregon Hemp Industry Sees Boom”
- Portland Business Journal
Then this one here...
“Lawmakers From Both Parties Celebrate Hemp Legalization In The Farm Bill”
Along with this one are both from Marijuana Moment...
“Senate Votes To Send Hemp Legalization To President Trump's Desk”
They all sound great, but what's got folks worried behind the scenes is the idea that because of the current state of America while this is rapidly unfolding, the hemp industry (quite different from psychoactive cannabis) will soon be dominated and controlled by a handful of corporate brands who’ve proven beyond any reasonable or rational doubt to NOT have the best interests of the people and our environment at heart.
At least not until radical corporate reform is enacted...
Point here is, the future of American hemp is anything but certain. On one side you've got a growing army of farmers, small-to-medium business owners, and consumers who would likely support them, and on the other side are large brands with politicians, depthless pockets, and global supply chains in the works.
Wait, Isn’t Industrial Hemp a ‘Pure Good’?
After quick exposure and a little research into hemp it's easy to begin perceiving the plant species as a ‘pure good’ - a 360-degree win - opportunity for everyone from the individual on up to nation states and the earth's biosphere.
And that's true, whether supported as a...
Superior plant-based source of protein capable of displacing animal factory farming,
Powerful medicinal or herbal resource for endocannabinoid system supplementation,
Sustainable CO2-negative commodity to transform home building and construction,
Effective means of atmospheric CO2 capture and land reclamation tool...
It’s all good!
But let's not be too hasty to believe status quo systems will be benevolent with hemp, because hemp is a benevolent resource.
Yes, most supply chains currently laying waste to earth can become more efficient, sustainable and cleaner through hemp, but will this really be adopted? And if it is, will it all be controlled by the same companies?
For example, as hemp seed displaces the demand for California almonds, will almond corporations come in and buy out tons of small hemp farms creating many different products so they all just create theirs?
Will American hemp seed, fiber, and flower become just another set of pillar under American corporatism in agriculture?
Regardless of who gets all the profits, switching to hemp seed from almonds would be great for the land and honeybees, but would this scenario equal a net positive or net negative development for the people of California?
Full-Spectrum Dominance - From Farm to Fork
Consumers deal with it every time we visit the grocery store.
An indicative quote from FarmAid:
"U.S. agriculture suffers from abnormally high levels of concentration, meaning just a handful of corporations control nearly all of our food production, processing, and distribution."
Right now, as hemp farming is being legalized and adopted nationwide, nearly every sector in U.S. agriculture is well above the 40% concentration ratio economists believe routes out competition and opens the door to wholesale market abuse.
Here's a rough graph from Farm Aid painting the grim picture. We're not sure how old this is, but it shows what just four brands control in terms of individual market share:
These companies, their land and livestock can benefit from hemp, tremendously, but do they know that? Do they care?
Corn for example is going to take a HUGE hit for a variety of reasons thanks to hemp, as will any GMO crop. Meanwhile, livestock animals LOVE feed boosted by hemp seed (hearts, oil, cake, etc.) or hemp gruel, and their meat and eggs end up being of higher nutritional quality.
Will these brands take 55-84% control of hemp, or will it go more to the people and our small farming and business communities? We need to work together!
Let's briefly summarize how we see it here in early-to-mid 2019 in terms of the very generalized picture of hemp genetics.
America: The 19th and 20th century era of cannabis prohibition eradicated many (we don't know the exact amount) of the longstanding strains of hemp that existed before it. We’re talking cultivars with history stretching back through centuries, millennia, traced to Europe and Asia. However, these weren't cultivars created for CBD, but almost entirely for seed, hurd and fiber. Regardless, yet another sad result of the so-called ‘War on Drugs’. In 2020-2025 American farmers will rely on what vanguards have managed to build in states like Colorado, Kentucky, and Oregon over the last few years when it comes to ‘CBD breeds’ and likely Canadian, Chinese and European strains for other applications involving food and fiber.
Canada: The strains of industrial hemp dominating Canada have traditionally been for seed, which is then used to create hemp seed foodstuffs like hemp seed oil, hemp seed protein powder, hemp hearts, hemp seed-based milks and flour, etc. The transition into a multi-purpose industry will be as interesting there as it will be in the U.S. for different reasons. Canada has already begun farming high-CBD strains.
Europe: Other than the cataclysmic rise in demand from America for CBD-dominant and ‘full spectrum’ hemp oils/concentrates (to conform with strict pre-2018 legalization laws that required importation), Europe’s hemp crops have primarily been focused on construction-industrial applications.
China: The Chinese industrial hemp sector has traditionally been focused on textiles. The situation is changing rapidly - expanding to include CBD for cosmetic applications and growing monthly as global demand for hemp rises along with competing industries. Time will tell whether American hemp will be allowed to really compete on a global market.
The ‘hemp CBD’ application is at risk of becoming the vehicle through which more control and market share is seized. We shouldn't allow over-centralized corporate interests to legally define industrial hemp or it's naturally-occurring compounds as ‘medicine’ in the conventional or legally-dominated sense.
Because if it's 'medicine' in this sense, that means doctors and pharmaceutical interests are given all power. If it's just a commercial crop like corn or wheat, it's not medicine.
Even when the endocannabinoid system is considered, for the vast majority of people hemp CBD is merely herbal supplementation; safe, nontoxic, non-addictive and a non-intoxicating alternative.
Aside from these facts, the plant can be used to dramatically re-imagine energy, construction, food, and clothing industries just to get started…
Don't forget, the same level of corporate power concentration can be found in the American use of fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides involved in agriculture...all of which stand to lose a good percent of revenue as industrial hemp requires DRAMATICALLY lower amounts.
Where will the industrial hemp industry be in a couple years when it's as common as flax, or perhaps even corn, peanuts, soy, or wheat? Vast amounts of the capital raised from the demand for hemp could fuel the rise of the greater industrial hemp industry into countless communities!
It shouldn't be allowed to funnel only into a small number of corporate coffers.
The four core promises of industrial hemp for the American populace explain why (not to mention the U.N. 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development):
1) A Cleaner Environment
Industrial hemp has the potential to replace the need for timber products, petroleum-based plastics and synthetic fibers, and a good percentage of the demand for animal protein. Consider those implications alone and apply various butterfly effects... the plant will also go a LONG way in terms of cleaning up and restoring farmlands and replacing the toxic devastation from crops like soybeans and cotton (thanks to pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, GMO, etc.).
We must safeguard hemp from being tampered with genetically to the point it no longer or barely resembles what we’ve managed to save across the world. We must take steps to ensure the genetics of industrial hemp aren’t distorted to the point it becomes something else entirely and squander perhaps the greatest plant-gift nature’s ever bestowed upon us.
Corporate ownership of the hemp plant or any of its natural constituents should be COMPLETELY off the table.
2) Restoring American Agrarianism
The last time industrial hemp farming was completely legal and fully-accepted, the majority of families owned or worked on a farm. And, most farms used or grew hemp to some degree - especially when monarchs and government bodies mandated it be grown or during times when it was used as currency for trade (even paying taxes).
Hemp can revitalize and repopulate the family farm community from sea to shining sea, especially in the heartland. Not to mention the small-to-medium business world... impossible if concentrated in centrally-controlled farms stretch on from horizon to horizon primarily benefiting a small few.
Should major corporations have their share? Absolutely! But, there’s more than enough to go around.
American hemp can become a highly-prized commodity, spawning endless consumer goods WE can manufacture and sell to the rest of the world. More on this in #4.
3) Decentralizing Energy Production
It’s been said we could satisfy 100% of America’s energy needs with a hemp farm roughly the size of Rhode Island. Over the next decade, hopefully this many acres of hemp are planted for specifically biofuel or biodiesel purposes...but, what good does it do our nation if all that capital goes to one or two energy companies?
Hemp-based biomass and energy production will become a tremendous market, and it would be more beneficial if the power were shared and decentralized in many of the same ways we were promised the solar energy market would be.
4) Revitalizing Green American Manufacturing
One extremely common fact is hemp can be used to make ‘20,000+’ consumer products from the seed, hurd, fiber and flower. Everything plastic or wood can make! Great, and just picture having the American processing and manufacturing network to supply domestic and global demand for all these products.
We should take steps to ensure in coming years that the hemp industry is able to flourish and create millions of jobs along the socioeconomic spectrum - textiles, warehousing, processing, packaging, manufacturing, retail, minimum wage all the way up to unions.
Hemp has the potential to recreate an American manufacturing base. Mega-corps shouldn't be allowed to seize control of hemp farming supply chains, then pay farmers pennies to ship our hemp off to be manufactured elsewhere then sold back to us at inflated prices.
Support Smaller Private & Locally-Owned Hemp Farms
Would it be ideal to see publicly-funded cooperative industrial hemp farms become commonplace? Yes. But those are a hardball game in most states for anyone without corporate-level funding or deep connections to local politics...unfortunately.
Private businesses are the better option right now for most people who want to get involved, make some money and create jobs through hemp.
Consumers need to know why they should support them.
Along with the privately-owned farms and private businesses selling everything from shirts to snacks to the world, envision publicly-funded and operated multi-purpose hemp farms outside your town providing inexpensive local food, fiber, cannabinoids, biomass for fuel, etc. to your county. It's a great thing, and no one disagrees once they're aware it's possible.
Both publicly-funded and private hemp businesses will enrich this nation and world if they aren't squashed by over-centralization!
Thanks for your time.
If you agree...
...that American hemp is a resource with incredible potential for the people and shouldn't be forced into a state of over-consolidation, for just $1 you're free to Cast your lot in with Darby Hemp because we're working for better more equitable outcomes.