Farmers are looking to differentiate themselves in a crowded hemp market by selling organically grown hemp. Right now, the population of organic hemp farmers is tiny - just 356 operations across the country. But the organic industry predicts those numbers will grow as the demand for top-tier hemp products is anticipated to rise.
"There's increasing interest and increasing demand" in organic hemp, said Gwendolyn Wyard, vice president of regulatory and technical affairs for the Organic Trade Association. "There's so much hemp coming onto the market - we're looking at a flooded marketplace. Retailers are figuring out who to buy from and looking at how brands are distinguishing themselves."
Such products sell at a premium and using sustainable practices is good for the environment. That's especially true for hemp, which has an extensive root network that can break up soil compaction and extract toxins and pollutants.
The lack of an adequate supply chain infrastructure is a major problem for all hemp producers, but it poses additional challenges for organic growers because all steps of the supply chain that interact with a hemp harvest must be certified organic, including processing facilities.