CORVALLIS, Ore. (KOIN) — John Antle is combining hemp with economics.

Antle, a professor of applied economics at Oregon State University, is one of the researchers at the Global Hemp Innovation Center, the nation’s largest research center dedicated to studying hemp.

“My research is really at this point focused on the economic potential for this new crop,” Antle told KOIN 6 News. “When hemp was legalized in 2018, there was a lot of excitement about it and people predicted that it might become one of the most valuable crops in Oregon, for example.”

As research into hemp as a sustainable crop grows in the Pacific Northwest and throughout the world, Antle said it will look at the impacts on communities where hemp is grown, including environmental impacts.

Hemp is a relatively new industry, which makes this research so important and valuable.

“In fact,” he said, “a group here at OSU recently got a large federal grant to to study just that whole question of how do we really develop the whole industry.”

John Antle is with Oregon State University's Applied Economics Department, August 2022 (KOIN)
John Antle is with Oregon State University’s Applied Economics Department, August 2022 (KOIN)

Hemp is versatile. It can be eaten, it can be drunk, it can be used in fabric or for building materials.

Antle’s work is data-driven, so studying the economic impacts of hemp is work that’s really just beginning.

“What’s really kind of unique about this project is because this is just a nascent industry, we’re really studying all the way from the farm level, agronomics and management and the economics of that for an individual grower all the way up to how do we create a supply chain and really an industry for this new crop,” he told KOIN 6 News.

He and other researchers build simulation models to have an idea about how things such as different climate conditions can impact a crop.

Antle said this is both exciting and a challenging undertaking. Hemp “was an illegal crop until 2018, there’s very few data and we’re really kind of building research from the ground up.”