How Coronavirus Outbreak Hit The Hemp Industry

by Lisa Jones     

The coronavirus outbreak has disturbed the entire world, distracted millions of lives, the downtime in the economy, recession, and many more terrible situations. It has almost disturbed every sector, including the hemp industry- right from canceling the events to disrupting the supply chain. It is not clear yet how much destruction is yet to happen, but one thing for sure, we know that the hemp industry is not immune to this effect. The novel coronavirus has brought few changes in this industry that may bolster the growing hemp industry. However, this could also bring some additional obstacles and challenges for the hemp industry.  

Few of things detailed about how COVID-19 could or is already impacting the hemp industry-

Research Suggests

The National Hemp Research & Education meeting was scheduled for 17th and 18th March; however, it was postponed due to pandemics. Along with the meeting, the conference proceedings have also lagged where the mentor could have suggested several factors to the hemp growers. The meeting was sponsored by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and was an invitation-only meeting. It was featured as panel presentation and discussion on topics like hemp best management practices, genetics, and supply chain. The conference was scheduled to establish a few working groups to bring new hemp education and research priorities for the upcoming 3 to 5 years.  

Southeast Agricultural Research & Extension Center director Alyssa A. Collins stated that the cancellation of the conference would show the ripple effect until the next year. One of the main goals of the meeting was to hear from the hemp industry stakeholders directly. The reason why they have personally invited them, to know what they require and use those opinions to set the research priorities for partnering with scientists around the nation for the beginning of work in 2020. Now because of the pandemic, we, unfortunately, won't get the opportunity to have direct industry input before the setup of the season when the research will already be under process.

Covid19 Effect On Hemp Industry

Alyssa A Collins, also an assistant professor at Penn State University, said that all the in-person events and extensions had been canceled, and the maximum of these events would be moved to online. But, people from the parts of New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, who are having this as the first year of production, would not get access to this education. Besides, there are also cultural considerations, including Amish communities, and lack of access to sufficient broadband. Now it will be much more difficult for specialists extension and educators to spread hemp production and other best practices information to farmers.

Broadband access is not a new problem for hemp farmers. However, it has raised new concerns on alternative methods of delivering much-needed information.  

More Events Cancelled 

The canceled meetings were just 2 of several industry events that have been postponed so far. There are more such who have halted their events, including-

  • The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) had postponed its Hemp-CBD [cannabidiol] Supplement Congress. 
  • The NoCo Hemp Expo has been postponed to 6th-8th August. Besides, the International Cannabis Business Conference (ICBC) has moved from early April to July. 
  • South by Southwest (SXSW), a culture conference with a history of 34 years held with nearly 300,000 attendees, has been canceled.  
  •  Alongside this, even hemp growers also had postponed their Cannabis Business Times and Cannabis Dispensary.

According to a statement by the Cannabis Conference stated that in an effort to protect our employees, the safety of every attendee and their health, and our communities in between the global outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, we have collaboratively decided to postpone the Cannabis Conference 2020 in April. We all are actively working at our meeting hotel, Paris Las Vegas Resort & Casino, to regulate potential alternative dates for the event. 

Labor Shortages

After the outbreak of the pandemic, most of the industries have temporarily shut down their operations, and few of them have even permanently closed its operation. Besides, lay-offs have been seen as a common move for the majority of the staff from various sectors. If the situation worsens, then the shortage of laborers will again increase- laborers will fear to get back to work as a precautionary measure to keep themselves safe from infection. 

Whitney Economics founder Beau Whitney said that since the outbreak of coronavirus started spreading like wildfire, he began studying cannabis trends in Kirkland. He further noted that dispensaries laying in the region have not witnessed any less traffic or even not a little change in product preferences. He had only witnessed a shortage of employees. He has only seen a 10-25% lack of dispensaries as few people have an illness, self-quarantining, or taking care of children who are out of school. 

Beau Whitney said, how does all this relate to hemp? Throughout the US, it will get more extensive rather than having it in isolated pockets. The real threat is to have sufficient labor all over the country. Whenever there is a requirement for people to work in a processing facility or the requirement of people in the farms' work, you might not have them for work. 

Supply Chain Disruptions 

Like every industry in the US region, the industry experts predict that the hemp industry will automatically experience disturbance along with the supply chain. China's new economic report has suggested a drop in industrial output, retail sales, and investments for the first quarter of 2020. The economists are also predicting the plunge is far from over.

What Businesses Can Do?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had published comprehensive guidance for various businesses on the preventive measures for workplace exposure to the coronavirus. Highlights include- 

  • Actively encouraging sick employees to stay home. 
  • Performing routine environmental cleaning. 
  • Advising employees before traveling to take specific steps. 
  • Separating employees who appear immediately ill. 
  • Emphasizing staying home when sick, respiratory protocol, and hand hygiene to all employees. 
  • Alongside this, CDC had also published considerations of planning if they found a more widespread community of outbreaks of coronavirus.

Beyond the health considerations, Whitney says the business sector can take additional steps to protect themselves for the coming months. However, scaling, branding, and supply chain management would be the transforming factors in this space. If you fail to understand the supply chain, then you might set yourself to failure. 

Whitney mentioned that a supply and demand shock is possible to occur in many industries, which also includes the hemp industry, so it is essential to be prepared for that shock. 

However, understanding every detail from end to end is difficult, along with understanding your business and maintaining a possible plan for supply, labor, and demand-supply chain, shocks, and all of that. More than retailers and enterprises plan, the more successful they'll be.


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Lisa Jones

Lisa Jones is a skilled content writer who creates well-researched, Engaging, and informative content upon cannabis. She is a professional in unlocking the pure hemp CBD science.

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