In 2020, farmers in Iowa were given the opportunity to grow industrial hemp again after a 70-year hiatus… but it hasn’t been making as much headway as people thought it would.

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According to Lane Kozel with the Iowa Department of Agriculture, the number of hemp growers in the state dropped again this year.

Believe last year, we dropped to 45. And this year, we had 33, licensed growers. Of those 33, 26 growers actually planted a hemp crop. So, we're down to about 26 growers this year. So, it's been cut in half every year since the program was started.

He mentions a few reasons for these cuts, including costs of inputs the amount of labor necessary, and lack of market availability for growers.

At the time that Iowa approved its hemp program, other states started to approve programs of their own which caused a quick saturation of the market.

The 2021 Hemp Report shows that in 2021, there were 160 acres of hemp planted and of that, only 120 of those acres were harvested. Just across the Mississippi River in Illinois, there was 1,100 acres of hemp planted and 940 of those acres were harvested in 2021.

You know, there's been talked as long as it's programs and going people have been, sitting on previous crops.  C-B-D, that seemed to be the big boom, in previous years. And I think the market is saturated with that. So until we can find some uses for some fiber and some grain, I think it's going to stay where it’s at.

In order to harvest industrial hemp, it must pass a test that shows the THC levels of the plant is below 3.9 percent. If it doesn’t meet that standard, the plant must be destroyed.

This year, all growers in Iowa passed this test.

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