State farmers showing strong interest in growing industrial hemp
Wednesday, May 16, 2018
Wisconsin farmers stressed by stagnant dairy and grain markets are showing strong interest in growing industrial hemp this year, but a state agricultural official is warning them not to count on the niche crop to solve their financial problems.
“I’d say interest from farmers is almost extreme,” said Brian Kuhn, who heads the plant industry bureau of the state’s Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.
“The calls we take every day about hemp are very high, and our website hits blows away numbers for almost anything we’ve put on our website in some time,” he said. “We’re getting distinctly higher numbers (for hemp) than what we’re used to, which is a good thing.”
But while the niche crop has the potential to create more income than corn or soybeans, Kuhn said farmers will get burned if they don’t follow rules for selling hemp that are different from rules for selling corn, soybeans and other mainstream crops.
“I’m telling farmers to be very cautious,” Kuhn said. “I don’t look at this as the savior for the farm economy. The farmer who’s on the edge shouldn’t be rushing out there to put 500 acres into hemp. While it’s got great potential and great promise, it could also cause great harm if they haven’t worked through the details of the market side.”