Compiled by Jean Lotus
As 2021 comes to a close, we recognize it was a year of both struggles and progress in the hemp industry. We asked our hemp heroes and heroines – top business and policy experts in the hemp sphere – to provide their unvarnished predictions for 2022.
What are the challenges and opportunities the new year will bring? Below are responses (some edited for clarity and length.)
Alexis Harris: CEO, Harris and Associates LLC
Whether it’s ancillary services, agritourism or special events– to end product production, the possibilities within this industry are infinite. Challenges are educational barriers across networks. Lawmakers and elected officials need education, doctors need education, transportation and logistics operations need education. Existing policies and practices have to be reexamined and restructured; and this must happen from a place of understanding versus ignorance.
Asa Waldstein: Principal, Supplement Advisory Group
Hemp companies that continue to invest in safety, efficient operations, and compliant marketing strategies will be well-positioned to succeed. Companies may find it challenging to see so many others making high-risk marketing disease claims. I expect to see increased enforcement of unscrupulous companies that will level the playing field for others that play by the rules.
Bill Billings: Co-Founder, Colorado Hemp Project
There are many opportunities in the hemp industry as more people are becoming aware of the plant’s amazing potential. The biggest challenge is to get more farmers in America to plant as the price of commodities has soared. Farmers take care of family first. That is why they will plant corn, beans and other commodities because they have contracts. Hemp farmers must be guaranteed a contract for what they produce and be compensated fairly. Production facilities and infrastructure are in their infancy. One of the biggest issues are the bad players (Yes, they are still out there) who care about themselves and who promise everything and deliver nothing.
Cait Curley: Luminary, Cait Curley Media
A big opportunity could be CBD being approved as a dietary supplement ingredient as well as a food and beverage additive. A continued challenge is the lack of separation in cannabinoids and fiber / grain. Hopefully we can get that figured out in 2022 where there is a clear difference between delta-8 and hemp hearts both educationally and legally.
Chris Boucher: CEO, Farmtiva Hemp Seed
The best opportunity is to learn from the past few years of hemp farming mistakes – growing too much, having no marketing team in place when it’s time to sell the crop. An opportunity: Convincing farmers if they listen and follow the market there is a profit and a good one at that.
Frederick Cawthon: President, Hemp Alliance of Tennessee (HAT)
An opportunity for hemp brands in 2022 is incorporating Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) and a customer experience that involves the Metaverse into their business model. Challenges will persist from not receiving regulatory guidance from the FDA and having no major pro-hemp legislation passed by Congress.
Doug Fine: American Hemp Farmer, Regenerative Farmer, Author and Advisor
As hemp acreage and awareness increase, I think hemp food and fiber markets will begin to mature. Essential to make that happen is the first step of raising the definition of hemp to 1% THC.
Eric Singular: Director of Communications & Business Development, International Hemp
With the price of staple agricultural commodities skyrocketing, it will be vitally important for the farmers that do grow hemp in 2022 to ensure a high return on investment. That’s why we believe 2022 will be the year of dual-purpose hemp farming. Our AOSCA certified industrial hemp varieties, Henola and Bialobrzeskie, are suitable for dual-purpose, grain and hurd production. There is massive uncertainty with global shipping, fortunately, all of our seed is stored in climate-controlled facilities in Iowa and North Dakota and is ready to ship now.
Geoff Whaling: Board Chair, National Hemp Association
Just participated in a conversation with senior officials to Treasury Sec Janet Yellin. Upon learning of NHA’s Member Black Buffalo 3-D’s construction work, and research to incorporate hemp fiber, insulation, wood etc and the complete cycle/impact that this will have on mitigating cement co2 one official stated “Treasury can and will be supporters of winners and drivers of the new green economy. What you are doing is taking what we see as two separate sectors (agriculture and construction) that are major contributors to CO2 and combining them (into a solution), something we have not thought about. This is precisely the type of innovation the Treasury will be supporting. With capital – Fiber and Grain; Sustainability, Construction and Infrastructure. Although much research and standards are needed – hemp will be a contributor to the new green economy in a big way in 2022!
Jacob Waddell: President of the US Hemp Building Association
There are great opportunities with the next Farm Bill to alleviate some issues that have become apparent from the 2018 Farm Bill. One of these opportunities would be a separation of hemp production into different classes. The hope would be to unburden farmers of hemp grown for fiber and grain from the same scrutiny as those growing hemp for cannabinoid consumption.
James McDonald: CEO, The Hemp Company, Dublin
The Irish industry is dogged by wildly inappropriate hemp regulations. Our industry representative body, HFI, has been calling for the hemp sector to be developed in line with IPCC climate transition pathways carrying the highest co-benefits, including for human health. Securing a fully integrated, whole plant approach to such a development, globally, would be amazing: That’s the big challenge!
Jamie Petty Campbell: Executive Director, Midwest Hemp Council
Opportunities to expand upon the discussions and desire to be a more unified, efficient industry, working collaboratively are enhanced and ripe for action. Also, we are beginning to have discussions regarding the 2023 Farm Bill, which allows us the opportunity to remove numerous hurdles in this industry – and to do so together!
Jonathan Miller: General Counsel, Hemp Round Table
The greatest opportunity and challenge for our industry is securing federal legislation to Regulate CBD Now — to stabilize hemp markets, protect consumers, open up a promising economic opportunity for U.S. agriculture and honor commitments made to farmers in the 2018 Farm Bill. There are several bipartisan bills in Congress, endorsed by the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, aiming to legally recognize and regulate ingestible hemp products like CBD: H.R. 841, S. 1698, and the recently introduced, H.R. 6134. We encourage every hemp supporter to go to regulateCBDnow.com to use our portal to email their Members of Congress to support this critical legislation.
Morris Beegle: President of WAFBA – We Are For Better Alternatives
There are significant opportunities for hemp technology and innovation. Those that can bring solution-based tech to the table in 2022 and 2023 can change the course of the industry. Challenges for the industry still include unfettered obstruction by the FDA in regards to cannabinoids as well as the need for large investments into industrial hemp processing infrastructure.
Rod Kight: Attorney at Kight Law Office; Editor of the Kight on Cannabis legal blog.
The biggest opportunity for hemp in 2022 will be in international trade, particularly Mexico. The biggest challenge will be the mounting competition with, and obstructionist tactics employed by, “Big Marijuana”, particularly regarding intoxicating hemp compounds.
Seth Boone: VP Business Development, PanXchange
Fiber and grain have an opportunity in 2022 with multiple large processors scheduled to start production. There appears to be more demand than we can keep up with. However, one of the largest challenges will be procuring the acreage that is needed for fiber and grain in the face of high grain prices and a skeptical sentiment among traditional farmers.
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Jean Lotus is a Colorado-based award-winning journalist and hempreneur who writes about the American West and sustainable food and technologies.