It’s no secret that hemp grown for CBD continues to dominate the bulk of hemp cultivated in the U.S., and it makes sense: Supply chains for fiber and grain in the country are still severely underdeveloped. But in order for the industry and the businesses within it to grow, there needs to be a continued push toward bolstering other areas of hemp.

Any good business owner will tell you diversification can be a key strategy to sustained growth for your business. While it can come with significant upfront investment and risk, those in the hemp industry are no strangers to taking chances.

And luckily, hemp has plenty of opportunities for diversification. 

This month’s cover story subject, Santa Fe Farms, has seen those opportunities and is working to take advantage of them to strengthen their own and other farmers’ businesses. The company started off with just two farms right after passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, but Santa Fe Farms co-founder Steven Gluckstern has been working to grow the company to incorporate all aspects of hemp production and sales, including seed genetics, cultivation, extraction, processing and B2B products for sale to retailers. 

And the company’s vision for what Gluckstern calls “an integrated … enterprise” is just beginning, as its products division is exploring avenues to create multiple products using hemp. Health and wellness nutritional products, packaging, paper and pulp, animal bedding, building products, bioplastics and carbon-sequestering biochar are all on the table for Santa Fe Farms.

“The future, from my perspective, was not going to be in phytocannabinoids; that was an interesting way to get started, but it was really going to be the industrial uses of this plant that were going to drive the industry,” Gluckstern told cover story author Jodi Helmer.

Although diversifying into new services and product categories comes with risk, growing hemp only for cannabinoids also comes with inherent risk. In this issue, Managing Editor Patrick Williams details how cross-pollination can affect cannabis and hemp crops grown for flower, causing seed development and devaluing the crop significantly. Williams also outlines solutions for this problem and what growers can do if their crop has been cross-pollinated.

And in this month’s Hemp Law column, attorney Henry Baskerville gives an updated look at the smokable hemp landscape. Though smokable hemp provides one of the most lucrative avenues for selling flower, laws surrounding it are “all over the map,” Baskerville writes, making for an in-flux, confusing market in which to operate.

The industry, its supply chain and regulations will continue to evolve, and new opportunities will continue to emerge. Not putting all your eggs in one basket could be a way to help avoid some of the risk along the way.

Theresa Bennett | tbennett@gie.net