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Walker Signs Industrial Hemp Farming Bill
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 12/01/2017

For the first time in over six decades, Wisconsin farmers are once again allowed to grow industrial hemp as a cash crop. On Thursday, Governor Scott Walker signed a bill that would legalize the plant as an agricultural commodity if producers acquire a license from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture.

The legislation specifics that anyone with a prior drug conviction would not be eligible to grow hemp. In addition, the crop would not be allowed to contain more than 0.3 percent THC, an active ingredient in marijuana.

Rural lawmakers and farm groups have been pushing the concept of hemp production in recent years, claiming it provides an economic benefit for farmers, while creating new manufacturing and tech opportunities for the state.

"The establishment of an industrial hemp pilot program will open new market opportunities for our state's farmers and create jobs in processing and marketing," said Wisconsin Farm Bureau President Jim Holte. "From the 1930s to 1957, Wisconsin dominated hemp production. As a farmer myself, I am excited about the opportunities this creates to capitalize on existing markets, capture emerging markets and once again establish our position as an industry leader."

Wisconsin becomes the 34th state to legalize industrial hemp, joining neighboring states like Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Minnesota.

Meanwhile, Congressman Glenn Grothman is backing a similar bill on the federal level. He says industrial hemp played a large role in Wisconsin's agricultural history and legalizing it now will benefit state farmers financially.

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