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Backers of Industrial Hemp Encouraged by Growth in Wisconsin
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 01/23/2019

Two state lawmakers who were instrumental in legalizing industrial hemp farming in Wisconsin say the crop's return in 2018 exceeded expectations. Sen. Patrick Testin of Stevens Point and Rep. Tony Kurtz from Wonewoc say nearly 250 grower permits and 100 processor licenses were issued by the Department of Agriculture this past year--far surpassed the interest initially projected by industry experts.

The GOP legislators believe that 2019 will bring even more growth in the hemp industry. Currently, they are working on legislation to help farmers, processors, retailers and consumers move forward with confidence.

"The market for hemp products is expanding," said Testin, who is a certified organic farm. "It's important that the State of Wisconsin enable farmers and processors the freedom and opportunity to grow to meet that demand, while also offering consumers the ability to purchase these products with confidence of their safety."

Kurtz adds that DATCP could issue two to three times more licenses this year than it did in 2017.

"At a time when commodity prices are low, it's important to give our farmers the ability to diversify and explore more markets," Kurtz noted.

Former Governor Scott Walker signed a bill in December 2017 that authorized farmers to grow hemp under a pilot program as long as they obtained a license. Nearly a year later, the 2018 Farm Bill also made the practice legal on a federal level.

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