The United States can solve its own energy problem now that the productivity of American farmers and entrepreneurs has been unchained by legalizing the growing of hemp in the United States with the Farm Bill of 2018 for the first time since the 1930’s.
Hemp is essentially a weed but it is an exceptional plant because it is easy to grow in all states. Every part of the plants is usable. It can be grown in poor soil not suitable for growing food. It leaches toxins, like heavy metals, uranium, and arsenic from the soil and metabolizes them, revitalizing spoiled lands, as where coal has been mined and gas extracted. The Midwest has more than 11 million acres of poor land not being used for crops.
Hemp has a short growing season, which means it can be harvested 3 times a year. Or it can be planted after other crops, requiring no fertilizer, herbicides, or pesticides. It can be used as a rotational crop or planted after other plants are harvested. Because of its deep roots and dense leaves, it chokes out weeds.
Because the hemp plant has so little THC, not enough to get anyone high, the commercial growing of hemp should face fewer regulatory problems from the Food & Drug Administration.
The oil pressed from hemp seed can be converted into biodiesel and fermenting the stalks results in either ethanol or methanol or both. Of all the plant sources of energy that have been tried, hemp is superior to alternatives include algae, Carrizo cane, switchgrass, and food plants like corn, soybeans, olives, peanuts, and rapeseed.
Hemp produces nearly four times as much oil per acre as soybeans, which is currently the only crop grown on a large enough scale for biodiesel in the U.S. and ten times more wood pulp than trees per acre. While hemp has been used and can be used for canvas, rope, and clothing, it can also replace some plastics and its seeds, rich in omega-3 fatty acids vitamin E and minerals like potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, and zinc, can be used as food, its unique properties lend themselves to producing energy.
Farmers need to be made aware of the benefits to them of growing hemp.
A national association, such as the National Hemp Association or Vote Hemp, needs to launch a campaign “Providing America’s Energy Future” to create a favorable climate for farmers to be aware of hemp’s benefit with the assurance they will enjoy long-term markets. The timing is good as the oil and gas industry’s stock prices are down. A recent article is entitled “Bloodbath in Oil & Gas Stocks Could Continue.”
Critical masses of growers can be organized by county, multi-county or state to help them market their hemp, establish standards and provide a knowledge base for obtaining optimum yields.
Hemp can’t be beat as a cash crop. It turns out to be the most cost-efficient and valuable of all the fuel crops we could grow on a scale that will enable America to become energy independent on a sustainable basis.