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Could take time for industrial hemp to take off in Wisconsin



Gov. Walker still must sign the bill approved by legislature 

Industrial hemp won’t be a magic pill for farmers in Wisconsin. At least, not quite yet.

Wisconsin’s legislature approved licensed hemp farming in the state, though Gov. Scott Walker has yet to sign the bill.

It’s hard to say how fast industrial hemp will take off in Wisconsin, as farming it becomes legal. Buffalo County agriculture agent Carl Duley believes farmers in his county could embrace the crop in the future, though he’s not sure when.

“I would assume, and it’s my great hope, that they’ll be developed pretty quickly, over the next couple years anyway,” he said. “It’s a little too early for producers just to go out there and plant it. There’s really no markets or very limited markets right now because the infrastructure just isn’t here to handle it.”

Duley said that the important part in developing an industrial hemp growth agriculture economy is to also create ways to add value to what would otherwise be just a regular commodity like corn or soybeans.

Some value-added production of the raw material on a local basis could make the hemp farming industry grow quickly.

“Everybody’s struggling a little bit to make a dime farming and this might provide some opportunity to do like a lot of our vineyard owners have done and add process by adding a winery and things like that,” Duley said.

Buffalo County was once a center of a booming Wisconsin hemp farming industry before the crop became illegal to grow decades ago.