3 min read

The USDA Just Launched a Massive Survey of Hemp Farmers. Here’s What They Want to Know

ByTrichome Team

November 4, 2021

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Hemp cultivators and farmers: USDA officials have their eyes on you. Hold on—we mean that in a good way!

Recently, you may have received a notice from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to participate in a nationwide survey regarding acreage, yield, production and price of hemp (if you didn’t receive a notice, make sure to get in touch to ensure your voice is heard). This is all an effort by the USDA to understand the true value of hemp production in the United States and will have implications for policy in the future.

With increasing competition as more states ramp up their hemp programs, understanding the crop’s context and potential in the U.S. can offer incredibly valuable insights for licensed operators, like which cultivars to grow, how much to sell for, who to sell to, where to sell and beyond.

How Does the USDA Hemp Farmer Survey Work?

Participating in the survey is relatively straightforward. If you haven’t been already, you’ll soon be contacted by the USDA and given a unique survey code. Visit this site and input the code to access the survey, which went live on Oct. 18, 2021.

Surveys like this aren’t anything new for the agricultural industry. The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service carries out surveys for all types of agricultural commodities, from sugar beets to wheat to cherries to chickpeas. (Interested in those survey results? Check out some more reports here.)

This effort is aimed at bolstering the U.S. hemp program by providing helpful insights based on the collective knowledge of actual farmers and cultivators—not administrators sitting in a conference room.

This inaugural survey serves as a baseline to help the USDA understand how much land is currently being used to cultivate hemp in relation to the number of licenses that are given out. It also covers how the crop is utilized, whether it’s production of hemp flower, hemp grain for human consumption or fiber hemp, as well as hemp grown for transplanting or for seed.

USDA Hemp Testing Guidelines

Whatever the crop’s intended use, it needs to be tested. At the height of compliance testing season, at Trichome Analytical we receive a lot of questions about pre-harvest potency testing requirements, especially in light of the new guidelines released by the USDA.

Basically, this year the testing window increased from 15 days to 30 days, and criminal negligence penalties for crops that test above the 0.3% THC potency limit were removed in most cases. For more info, check out our blog about 2021 hemp testing.

Make Your Voice Heard in Hemp Policy: Get Involved

Filling out yet another survey may seem like an annoyance—we know first-hand how busy you all are! But there’s strength in numbers, and you shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to help shape policy and regulations for the hemp industry.

While not all of the feedback that cultivators provided on the Interim Final Rule made it into the Final Rule on hemp production, a significant portion did—and it’s all because cultivators made their voices heard. The results of this survey will help the USDA understand where improvements can be made and rest assured, your responses are kept confidential.

But don’t stop there: Your feedback and guidance are critical to the further development of the hemp industry, especially in the next few years. Federal legislation, aka the Farm Bill or Farm Act, is generally updated every four to five years. For example, the 2018 Farm Bill that fully legalized hemp production updated the 2014 Farm Bill that first allowed states to enact hemp pilot programs.

The legislation is written based on what’s happening on the ground (or under it), and good, meaningful policies in these bills depend on the voices of farmers and cultivators. Your own state likely has a defined hemp program too—don’t hesitate to reach out to your state offices with comments, questions or concerns.

This link includes information about the survey data and will also have links and information about what happens with the data once the survey period is over.

As always, if you have any questions about potency testing regulations or any developments in the hemp industry, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re here to be a guide to you, whether you’ve been cultivating hemp for years or are newly integrating this crop into your farming operations.

Learn more about hemp industry trends and policy updates in Trichome Analytical’s blog