Wisconsin was the first state in the U.S. to unanimously pass an industrial hemp production bill. Rules must be created within a 90-day period from the bill being signed. The bill was signed into law by Governor Scott Walker on November 30.
Farmers can apply for program participation once the rules are in place, according to The Country Today. Hemp farming has been on hiatus in the state for 60-years. The Wisconsin Farm Bureau widely supported the measure from the beginning.
Ken Anderson said, “I plan on Wisconsin leading the country in hemp production once again, and it won’t take that long at all. What just happened in Wisconsin is bigger than what Wisconsinites know.”
Hemp has gained much attention in recent years, making more farmers open to the idea of farming the crop.
Anderson said, “When the farmers are on the side of hemp, that’s when you win. You can’t just push them off as the lunatic fringe.”
Narcotics licenses are still required to cultivate industrial hemp. A proposal to remove industrial hemp from the Controlled Substances Act is in place. No dates or timelines have been given regarding when this proposal will be discussed at a federal level.
Wisconsin was once a leader in hemp production and seeks to take that top spot again. Mr. Anderson believes that there won’t be a shortage of farmers applying for licenses to grow the crop.
Anderson said, “I will end up turning away many farmers this year who want to grow hemp. I only have so many contracts.”
Anderson also says that farmers have to have a destination already planned for their crop.
He said, “We are a vertically integrated company. We sell farmers the seed but also contract their acreage. They have to have a buyer at the end of the day.”
Anderson is expecting that over 4,000-acres in Wisconsin will be used to plant industrial hemp. The state will also be harvesting organic hemp seeds that have great nutritional value including healthy fatty acids, fiber and protein.
Wisconsin is an ideal location given the amount of organic farming that already takes place in the state. The state is also poised to become a source for certified organic hemp.
Certified organic hemp grain is a goal of Anderson. He hopes that the industry will regard high demand from major companies like General Mills.
Anderson said, “We’re nowhere near the scale we need to be to supply people like (General Mills).”
The potential to get to that point exists.
Anderson enjoys working with grassroots companies and farmers more than advocating for industrial hemp.
He said, “If I can make a farmer profitable without any subsidies and I’m making them more profitable than they are with crops that are heavily subsidized…I feel good about it. The economics of industrial hemp farming are very good for farmers.”