Thinking about hemp, I began to wonder, is its history as filled with labor and land abuse as that of cotton? Or has it been overlooked entirely because of its relation to THC? First, it's important to note that in July of 2019 House Bill 1325, which allows the production of hemp, was passed in Texas.
It seems that the majority of the interest in the Texas industry is for CBD oil, animal feed, rope and burlap. There isn't a demand for growing hemp for fabric, because there isn't the technology to transform it in Texas.
Currently China has plans to reduce their amount of cotton crops, and instead grow hemp. Hemp can grow in poor soil, with little water and pesticides, but cotton requires healthy soil, pesticides, and more water. China plans to grow hemp in poor soil and use the land previously for cotton to increase food production
Could Texas become a leader in hemp and do away with the production of cotton? Here are some things to consider:
Hemp (comes from the stem of the plant) as a fiber.
Uses less water than cotton.
Grows well in arid climates (like West Texas) where it's harder for bugs to thrive.
Grows well in poor soil.
Less pesticides on the market = less pesticides used in cultivation
Has over 2000 products that can be made from the plant.
High UV protection without coating could reduce the amount of sunscreen needed.
It can easily hybridize with Marijuana plants which could result in entire crops being burnt since marijuana is illegal in Texas.
Still needs irrigation.
Currently in the U.S. there isn't a lot of technology available to turn the hemp into a usable fiber.
What to do?
We need to support our legislators to pass and provide a way to make the hemp industry viable in the US. Legislation would encourage cotton farmers to change their crops to something that requires less resources to produce as well as encourage the technology for processing it to develop. The risk is that big herbicide and pesticide corps will see this as an opportunity to cover the hemp in chemicals. We have to support the organic farmers early to ensure that the industry stays away from the toxic synthetic chemicals.