USDA Says Hemp Harvests, Prices are Rising

A recent report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture points to the hemp industry becoming more stable, particularly with regard to price and acreage. This is welcome, especially by players in the industry that have had to grapple with instability since the crop was legalized in 2018.

One statistician at the federal agricultural agency, Joshua Bates, stated in the report that after legalization, hemp experienced a boom followed by a slump. However, now things are smoothening out. This positive news comes as the House of Representatives starts working on the next farm bill.

The report, called the National Hemp Report, focused on the crop’s production in 2023. From the figures, we see that the value of outdoor-grown hemp flower rose to $241 million, representing a 35% increase. The average price of outdoor-grown flower also rose by 8.6% to reach $31.60 a pound, in comparison to 2022 figures.

Producers of hemp grown indoors grew fewer transplants and clones while still raking in more money. In comparison to 2022 figures, indoor hemp production for transplants and clones reached 75,866 pounds, a more than 25% drop. Simultaneously, the prices for those transplants and clones hit about $26 million, which represents a 61% jump.

The value of hemp grown for seeds also rose to $2.9 million, a 96% increase. Hemp seeds are primarily used for oils.

The overall hemp market, including crops grown both outdoors and indoors, saw its value increase by 18% to hit $291 million in 2023.

The department’s report also demonstrated that the market for hemp fiber was flourishing, with farmers in America growing more than 130% more fiber in 2023 than in 2022. This increase could be attributed to the increase in processing facilities investing in hemp.

The state of Montana still has the biggest outdoor acreage, standing at 2,900 acres. The Upper Plains are known for producing grain and fiber. In 2023, roughly 2,000 acres of hemp plantings in the state were set aside for fiber varieties.

The report also noted that California’s acreage rose to 2,100 acres, representing a 130% increase. The state is close behind Oregon, which planted 2,300 acres of hemp last year.

In addition, the report determined that the majority of hemp cultivators in America were male and white. According to the report, 82% of hemp producers were found to be male, with 90% of them also identifying as white. Only about 7% of hemp farmers identified as Black while 5% identified as Latino or Hispanic.

With regard to age, the report determined that only 17% of hemp producers were aged 65 years and older as of 2023.

The growth being seen in the hemp industry is likely to open up numerous business opportunities for entities like Astrotech Corp. (NASDAQ: ASTC) which make products which are useful in different stages of the hemp value chain.

NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Astrotech Corp. (NASDAQ: ASTC) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://cnw.fm/ASTC

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