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How Covid-19 Affects the Hemp Industry?
Due to the recent global disruptions, many people are wondering how will Covid-19 affect the hemp industry. While hemp farmers are not affected by the tariffs and trade wars associated with conventional crops like soybeans and corn, they still face unique challenges during this pandemic period. It is not clear what the total economic impact of the Covid-19 will be. However, one thing is certain: the hemp industry is not immune to market effects of Covid-19. Though some changes caused by the pandemic might boost the hemp industry, it may also create additional obstacles for hemp farmers. From supply chain disruptions to labor shortages, here is all you need to know about how will Covid-19 affect the hemp industry.
How Covid-19 Affects the Hemp Industry
Covid-19 has already affected the hemp industry considerably. Below are just some of the issues the hemp industry faces due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Supply Chain Disruptions
Experts predict that the hemp industry will experience disruptions along its supply chain following the Corinavirus pandemic. According to CNN, a new economic report from China shows plummeting investments, industrial output, and retail sales for the first quarter of the year, and economists expect it to continue. However, much of the direct impact on the hemp industry is up for debate. Clearly, co one knows where supply disruptions will occur, whether the long-term impact will be positive or negative, or how long these changes will last.
Though we have yet to witness a change in product preferences and purchasing, most experts anticipate changes soon. Deliveries will pick up, but consumers may avoid sharing smokable products to avoid direct contact with each other. Obviously, when asking, “How Covid-19 affects the hemp industry,” this is a big one.
Another significant way Coronavirus may impact the U.S. hemp industry is the shortage of cannabis product packaging materials, vaporizer products, and specialized extraction and testing equipment. Most of these materials come from overseas, primarily from China. As such, importing these materials into the U.S. will likely slow, leading to local shortages that could impact the processes of production, development, and research.
The National Hemp Research & Education meeting should have occurred on March 2020. Though the event could have helped hemp farmers immensely, event coordinators postponed the program along with its associated conference proceedings. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) sponsored the invitation-only event.
The purpose of the event was to feature panel presentations and discussions on hemp genetics, supply chains, and best management practices. Additionally, the revelation of the results from the national hemp survey also got delayed. The meeting should have established working groups to identify education and research priorities for the next three to five years. As such, the meeting cancellation will have a broad ripple effect over the coming years.
More Event Cancellations
The National Hemp Research & Education conference is just one of several industry events that have been canceled or postponed so far, with more likely to come. The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) Hemp-CBD Supplement Congress, which was supposed to happen in April, was postponed until August 26-27. The International Cannabis Business Conference (ICBC) in Berlin is also postponed, while The NoCo Hemp Expo moved from early April to Aug. 6-8. Finally, South by Southwest (SXSW), an annual conference that attracts more than 250,000 attendees every year, was canceled for the first time in 34 years.
Even Hemp Grower, one of the most popular cannabis publications, faced the difficult decision of whether to continue with its 2020 Cannabis Conference scheduled on April 21-23. On March, Hemp Grower, together with sister publications Cannabis Dispensary and Cannabis Business Times, decided to postpone the conference to an unknown date. According to Joy Beckerman, the president of Hemp Industries Association, these event cancelations are a major blow to hemp farmers. This includes travel interruptions, the loss of networking and educational opportunities. As an industry where new information is continually flowing, this loss will be difficult to recover from.
How Covid-19 affects the hemp industry: with a major loss of labor.
Of course, a shortage of employees has flooded labor-intensive jobs for years. Unfortunately, the virus may worsen shortages and spread them into other industries. For instance, anybody dependent upon temporary farm labor is vulnerable. Without affordable and widespread testing to determine uninfected laborers, who can farmers hire? When farmers need help during harvest or people to attend to crops, they may not have them.
What Businesses Can Do About Covid-19
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers Responding to Coronavirus Disease on how to prevent workplace exposures. Here are some highlights from the comprehensive guide:
- Advising employees before traveling to take precautions.
- Performing routine environmental cleaning.
- Emphasizing staying home when sick, hand hygiene, and respiratory etiquette to all workers.
- Actively encouraging sick workers to stay at home.
- Immediately separating workers who appear sick.
Final Thoughts on How Covid-19 Affects the Hemp Industry
Coronavirus will impact industries across the world immensely, and the hemp industry is no exception. If you are planning to grow hemp this year, try to isolate your farm as much as possible. Don’t allow outsiders or farm tours, use as few people as possible to handle the harvest and ensure strict Covid-19 prevention measures.