September 23 marked the first time since the 1950s that hemp has been harvested in Wisconsin. Industrial hemp cultivation was only permitted again in 2017 following passage of bipartisan-supported legislation. Lawmakers are hoping that Wisconsin will become a leader in the industrial hemp industry in the nation.
Cultivation is legal but farmers must follow very strict guidelines, WSAW 7 News reports. Lawmakers want to be sure that the hemp is being used for its intended purposes. An annual license must be secured to be permitted to cultivate industrial hemp.
Senator Patrick Testin said, “On average we import over $500 million of Industrial Hemp from places like Canada, China, and India. This is a great opportunity to grow it right here in Wisconsin.”
Farmers must also provide an exact location where the hemp will be grown. The use for the plant’s harvest must also be listed.
For smaller farmers like Michael Ombernik, growing hemp is an additional source of revenue.
Ombernik said, “I was just looking for an alternative way I can make some money for a smaller farm.”