Wisconsin Legalizes Hemp Farming

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Farmers in Wisconsin are now legally able to grow hemp plants.

Gov. Scott Walker signed Senate Bill 119 into law Nov. 30 after the measure was adopted unanimously by the state's legislature, according to WPMI.

Republican State Rep. Jesse Kremer, who sponsored the bill, tweeted that the bill's passage will make Wisconsin a leader in hemp production. His tweet included the hashtag "AmericasHempland."

Walker's office did not release a statement on the governor's signing of the bill, nicknamed the Farm Freedom Act.

Over 30 other states have previously adopted laws legalizing hemp production.

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Advocates of the move argue farmers will benefit substantially.

"They'll actually make money with hemp," said Ken Anderson of the company Legacy Hemp, according to WPMI. "That's kind of the key right now. Our farmers in seed production, right now, they're netting around $1,000 an acre which is just ridiculous right now in agriculture."

Farmers will be restricted from having any more than 0.3 percent THC in their hemp plants. THC is the active ingredient in marijuana.

Potential growers will have to apply for a license to produce the crop, and anyone with a prior drug conviction will be prohibited from growing hemp.

"The rest of the country is on notice. We used to lead the country in industrial hemp production and we will again," added Anderson to Madison.com. "I think Wisconsin is going to show America how hemp is done."

Wisconsin grew hemp in large quantities before the industry went into decline at the end of World War II. Hemp growing was subsequently outlawed.

"Farmers are looking for alternatives," Rob Richard of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation told Madison.com. "Corn and soybean prices are terrible. They see hemp as a good rotational crop. If they can make a little more profit by growing hemp, by all means they should."

Richard predicted that about a dozen farmers will grow hemp in 2018 and that the figure will rise to 100 in 2019.

Anderson suggested that Wisconsin's agricultural capabilities would enable the state to create jobs and produce hemp for a wide range of products.

"I get more excited when hemp is just another input into other products," he added. "When hemp is an ingredient, then we move it out of the niche market and into the mainstream market.”

But Anderson did have a word of caution for would-be hemp growers, urging them to ensure they secure contracts with processors first.

"Farmers can't grow it on spec thinking at the end of the day somebody is going to buy it from them," he said. "There’s a gluttony of hemp on the market in North America because of bad contracts with Korea, China, other countries."

Sources: Rep. Jesse Kremer, WPMI, Madison.com / Featured Image: Gage Skidmore/Flickr via Wikimedia Commons / Embedded Images: Erik Fenderson/Wikimedia Commons, Chatham House/Flickr via Wikimedia Commons

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