Hemp poised for year of gains

Nationwide increase in acres expected

A hemp plant in Alberta. (Jennifer Blair photo)

MarketsFarm — The hemp industry in Canada is set for a good year in 2021, according to Canadian Hemp Trade Association (CHTA) CEO Ted Haney.

“It looks like we are looking at another 15 to 20 per cent increase in seeded acres nationally, which should take us over the 100,000-acre level for sure,” he said.

The CHTA gathers data from seed companies as to how much hemp seed has been sold, then estimates how many acres would be planted, he said.

One catch, however, has been a lack of information from Health Canada, which produces A Summary of Notices of Cultivation usually in November/December of every year.

Haney said the CHTA is still waiting for that report, almost six months later — and a big part of the reason, he noted, has been Health Canada’s ongoing struggle to collect the data from licensed producers.

As for prices, Haney said conventional and organic prices have increased about 20 per cent.

“Hemp is remaining competitive with the entire oilseed market, which has been astronomical this year,” he said.

“The revenue streams in the industry continue to diversify. By that I mean the vast majority of revenue derived by our industry, up until 2018, was farmers growing hemp for the seed harvest and selling that as pedigreed seed and for food processing. Also, selling it for the European birdseed market.”

More recently, producers have garnered revenue from the sale of hemp stalks or straw. This, he said, will further improve with a third hemp processing facility to open in Canada.

And the export market is looking bright, Haney noted.

“Our exports went up 20 per cent in 2020 and we expect to see a similar increase in 2021,” he said.

On the downside, the harvesting of hemp flowers and leaves struggled in 2020 in Canada as well as globally. In Canada, that aspect saw a tough year because of “overreaching regulations by Health Canada,” and not due to consumer demand, Haney said.

“The black market continues to serve consumers’ needs in the high-[cannabidiol, or CBD] extract concentrate market,” he said.

The ultimate goals of removing risk and protecting Canadians – and removing organized crime from the cannabis industry – are not really happening when it comes to the CBD market and particularly as it relates to hemp, he said.

One hope on the horizon will be using hemp for livestock feed, he predicted. The industry still needs to get approval from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) for the registration of hemp seed and its seven derivatives to be used as livestock feed.

— Glen Hallick reports for MarketsFarm from Winnipeg.



Stories from our other publications