Wisconsin Industrial Hemp Program Steaming Ahead

Wisconsin industrial hemp pilot program
Image: Lothbrok

Wisconsin’s industrial hemp program is on schedule, with licensing applications now being accepted by the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP).

Things have come a long way in Wisconsin since 2015, when the Menominee Indian Tribe had its crop destroyed by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

In early December last year, we reported Governor Scott Walker had signed Senate Bill 119 into law, which directs the establishing of an industrial hemp pilot program in the state.

The DATCP was only given 90 days to develop a system for licensing growers – and they appear to have met that requirement with a set of regulations called ATCP 22, which have been active since March 2.

While the program is a significant opportunity for the state’s farmers, potential participants have been warned they need to be realistic and have all their ducks lined up.

“As we’ve been telling them all along, they need to remember that this is a research pilot program,” said Brian Kuhn, director of DACTP’s Bureau of Plant Industry. “Growers really need to know before planting that they have a licensed processor in position to accept their crop. They need to be aware of all the federal, state and local laws that might apply, and they need to talk to their lenders before they order seed.”

While the DACTP has applied for a DEA seed importer registration, it won’t be received in time for this growing season and farmers will need to source their own. Seed harvested from a pilot project can’t be saved or sold for the purposes of replanting either, with the exception of that harvested under Wisconsin Crop Improvement Association’s seed certification program.

The  DACTP says Wisconsin’s industrial hemp program is based largely on those in the 31 other states permitting industrial hemp cultivation. For example,  plants grown can contain no more than 0.3 percent of the psychoactive cannabinoid THC.

Parties wishing to grow or process industrial hemp in Wisconsin must apply for a license as well as register their intentions to participate in this year’s season. Growers will be subject to a one-off licensing fee depending on acreage to be grown that ranges from USD $150 for 0-30 acres, $5/acre for 31-199 acres, or $1000 for 200 acres or more; plus an annual fee of $350. Processors will not be charged a one-time fee for licenses, but there will be a $100 annual fee to participate.

Required security related measures for cultivation will be very light – farmers won’t need to build a fence or put up signs around their fields, although the latter may be advisable to discourage those who may mistake the crop for marijuana, which has happened in other states.

More on Wisconsin’s industrial hemp pilot program and the necessary forms can be found here.