Hemp sector prepares for a year of gains

Hemp growers have seen revenue from the sale of hemp stalks or straw increase, which will further improve with a third processing facility to open in Canada. | File photo

Production is expected to increase 15 to 20 percent, and both conventional and organic prices have risen 20 percent

WINNIPEG — The hemp industry in Canada is set for a good year in 2021, according to Canadian Hemp Trade Association president Ted Haney.

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

He explained the CHTA gathers data from the seed companies as to how much hemp seed has been sold and then estimates how many acres would be planted.

One catch, however, has been the 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. 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 the conventional and organic prices have increased about 20 percent.

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

“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 pedigree seed and for food processing. Also, selling it for the European birdseed market,” Haney added.

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.

As well, the export market is looking bright, the CHTA president said.

“Our exports went up 20 percent in 2020 and we expect to see a similar increase in 2021.”

On the downside, the harvesting of hemp flowers and leaves struggled in 2020 in Canada and globally. Haney stressed that Canada had a tough year because of “over-reaching regulations by Health Canada,” and not due to consumer demand.

“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, is not really happening when it comes to the CBD market and particularly as it relates to hemp,” Haney said.

He added that hemp may soon be used for livestock feed.

However, before that can happen, the industry needs approval from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for the registration of hemp seed and its seven derivatives to be used as livestock feed.

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