Ask Our Experts: How Much Hemp Does the U.S. Import Every Year?
Q: Since the 2018 Farm Bill has legalized hemp cultivation for the first time since World War II, how much hemp is the U.S. importing?
By New Frontier Data
A: Prior to 2010, the United States was not a significant importer of hemp. However, as states began legalizing hemp production and the federal government reformed its restrictions, the U.S. saw a dramatic rise in hemp imports. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the nation imported approximately $3.07 million worth of hemp in 2009. By 2015, total U.S. hemp imports increased by nearly a factor of 24x, for a total worth estimated at $75.89 million.
Since 2015, however, hemp imports declined (falling to $67.16 million in 2016 and $63.84 million in 2017) before rebounding to $71.87 million in 2018. With no confirmed consensus as to why total imports have increased, an informed assumption credits increased demand in the CBD market.
As of September, the U.S. imported roughly $66.6 million worth of hemp in 2019, the vast majority coming from Canada (accounting for approximately $59.3 million, or 89% of U.S. hemp imports).
Hemp seeds by far represent the most often imported items, accounting for $47.72 million, or nearly 72% of U.S. hemp imports. Second-most imported is hemp oil ($10.02 million), followed by hemp seed oil cake ($7.93), and raw unspun hemp ($476,276).
The outlook for U.S. hemp imports is uncertain: While demand for hemp-derived products has grown rapidly, so too has the domestic supply. Much will turn on the pending development and maturity of the infrastructure and supply chain, and the ultimate governance of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding the CBD market.