Although no one knows for sure what the full impact of the novel coronavirus will be on the hemp and CBD industries, farmers are predicting a rough road ahead.
A recent survey found over 80 percent of hemp farmers who responded expected financial losses due to COVID-19’s influence on the market. About 68 percent said their business already was impacted by the virus and about one-third expect losses of 40 percent or greater. Although a vast majority of respondents either have or are expecting financial losses, about half of respondents said their business is still functioning close to normal.
The virus’ impact on hemp and CBD cultivation also seems to be trickling down to distributors. Almost 40 percent of farmers surveyed indicated delays in getting out current orders. Some buyers are scaling back or canceling existing orders.
Those working the farms are at high risk of wage loss. Almost 50 percent of respondents indicated they do not offer paid sick leave to employees. About 10 percent of employers have started to offer sick leave since the pandemic started.
Like many industries, hemp and CBD companies are in need of financial support. So far, it is unclear if any stimulus money will find its way to hemp farmers. Dozens of Congressional members have lobbied the Small Business Administration (SBA) to guarantee that hemp farmers will have access to stimulus relief. The agency previously signaled it would not field applications from hemp farmers. So far, they have not weighed in again on the issue.
“We are concerned about the economic impact of the COVID-19 virus on farmers and wanted to make sure that hemp producers were not left behind at this critical moment,” said Eric Steenstra, president at Vote Hemp. “We urge the SBA and Congress to provide the same relief to hemp farmers that is being offered to other businesses.”