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3 Reasons Montana May Be Hemp's Best Kept Secret

Favorable government and climate make the state the last best place to grow.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Montana is known for its natural beauty with snow-capped mountain peaks and stunning alpine lakes. Despite its small population, Montana has become the hemp industry’s best-kept secret for successful hemp production.

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While farmers in rural communities may have been initially slow to ramp up hemp farming due to historically negative connotations with cannabis, now they see opportunities for gaining revenue and diversifying their crops.

According to a recent U.S. hemp crop report, “Montana recorded the most fields under hemp last year with 22,000 acres (about 9,000 ha.), a drastic increase over the 542 acres (219 ha.) sown in 2017.” The entire nation planted 78,176 acres of hemp in 2018. This means Montana farmers were responsible for 28% of the nation’s hemp production — the most compared to any other state.

So what is it that makes Montana the hot spot for hemp? Here are three reasons.

Related: 3 Exciting Trends Transforming The Hemp Business

1. Strong state support

The Montana State Hemp Program and the Montana Organic Certification Program are strong advocates and partners for the CBD industry. The Organic Program is an accredited USDA certifier of organic producers and handlers under the USDA National Organic Program. Its mission is to “... provide professional, efficient, and objective organic certification services to producers and handlers and facilitate the growth and success of organic agriculture in Montana.”

The Montana Department of Agriculture created the MT Hemp Advisory committee in 2019 to facilitate grower input and help advise the Department on industry decisions. This committee also worked to develop a hemp research and marketing program. Montana is currently developing a hemp certification program specific to the state, which will add additional value and credibility for hemp producers.

Having the Montana State government as a proponent for the CBD industry significantly benefits setting up operations in “Big Sky Country.”

2. Top talent 

According to the Montana State Department of Agriculture, agriculture is consistently Montana’s leading industry with a $4 billion impact in 2017. This is $665.1 million greater than the next leading industry which is travel. This focus on agriculture allows homegrown talent in the chemistry, engineering, and biochemistry fields to flourish in farming communities.

Montana is home to several world-class universities and colleges such as the University of Montana, Montana State University, and Montana Technical University, which means homegrown talent isn’t far from reach. All post-secondary institutions offer several world-class agriculture and science degree programs to support Montana’s thriving agricultural sector's needs.

Related: American Hemp Farmers May Prosper During The Pandemic

3. Robust technology 

Although agriculture is still Montana’s largest industry, the state’s tech sector is increasingly growing. According to the Montana High Tech Business Alliance, “Montana’s high-tech companies came roaring into 2020, reaching the pinnacle of a six-year boom  – growing nine times faster than the overall Montana economy, paying twice the median wage, and earning a record $2.5 billion in revenue in 2019.”

For the sixth year, a recent survey of tech leaders reported that Montana’s quality of life provides them a significant advantage in business. Especially important due to COVID-19, Montanans have abundant opportunities to safely enjoy nature and the outdoors in spacious settings.

The future of the hemp industry relies on technological innovation. As the hemp industry evolves, more advanced technology will be required to meet changing consumer preferences. Being part of a community that inherently supports innovation will only increase the growth of Montana-based hemp companies.