Wisconsin scrambling to boost hemp farming amid registration decline

Wisconsin lawmakers are scrambling to replace funding after a decline in hemp farming led to reduced income from registration fees.

Hemp-growing registrations in Wisconsin fell by 48% for the 2021 growing season, according to WisPolitics.com – a drop so precipitous that a fund to help cover the cost of regulating hemp producers is running a deficit.

In response, state lawmakers are considering asking technology, paper and even diaper companies to make hemp products that could benefit Wisconsin growers.

“There are some innovative things that we could do to create a synergy for the people who are blazing this trail,” said state Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee.

Wisconsin also is eyeing the private sector to help with THC testing, according to WisPolitics.com.

The state’s Legislative Fiscal Bureau warned that without increased funding, hemp testing could be delayed from four days to 10 to 45 days, while testing for pesticide drift and misuse could be delayed by an average of 60 to 120 days.

Lawmakers agreed to add one position and an additional $313,700 to meet testing demands — far short of Gov. Tony Evers’ budget proposal of $940,900 and five permanent project positions.