(WKRN) – There were high hopes for what’s being billed as the largest hemp auction in the world at the Williamson County Expo.
But some sellers have left early, frustrated at the bids.
“I hope I don’t have to drive back with all this hemp,” said hemp farmer Ryan Rowlett of Greeneville, Tennessee.
But later that day after our sister station, News 2, interviewed Rowlett, that’s exactly what he ended up doing hauling all 2,500 pounds of biomass back to his farm.
“I was hoping there would be buyers there bidding against each other and drive up the price,” said Rowlett.
The auction is supposed to help farmers get a fair market price for their crop, but things spiraled downhill.
According to the Hemp Daily Bulletin, the market value of hemp biomass averages anywhere from $1 to $2 per percent of CBD per pound.
But the bidding at the auction was just a fraction.
“As soon I heard the bid isn’t going above 50 cents, after the fifth or sixth lot didn’t sell, I was like okay,” said Rowlett.
“It was pretty tough yesterday, but it’s nature of the market,” said Mark Case, founder and CEO of the auction.
Industry experts said the market is still in favor of the buyer.
As bids became lower and lower, Case paused the auction, seeking input from farmers and growers.
“We actually put the growers with the buyers, with their product and they were able to tell about their product and just help get a little more sold,” said Case.
That approach is rare for an auction.
“They tried to get it going again, but it just kind of never broke that ceiling of even like above a dollar a point,” said Rowlett.
Farmers remained hopeful.
Tuesday’s focus of the auction was the most valuable part of the hemp plant – the bud, the smokeable flower, which hopefully means more money for farmers.
Austin Leach came from Paris, Tennessee.
“Seems like smokeable hemp is really taking off, there’s more of a demand,” said Leach.
Larry Brady drove four hours with high hopes.
“It’s been really tough, really tough to sell in Kentucky,” said Brady.
“We feel their pain we really do,” said Case. “We know it’s tough. We’re just going the extra mile to work for them.”
Case said there will be another auction to redo Tuesday’s biomass auction – it’s set for Thursday at 2 p.m.
That’s in addition to the day’s blended oils auction that begins at 10 a.m.
He said there will be more buyers.