Local Farmers Consider Growing Hemp Next Year

Local News

Some area farmers have their sights set on the return of a cash crop to the state.  Hemp hasn’t been in Wisconsin fields for decades, but a pilot program is bringing it back. 

Only a handful of Wisconsin we’re allowed to grow hemp in 2018, and on November 1st, local farmers can apply for a permit to legally grow it in the 2019 season.

“Given the deep agricultural history here and the experience the background, we see it as an incredible opportunity to expand the industrial hemp industry here in Wisconsin,” said Jonathan Vaught, the CEO of Front Range Biosciences, a Colorado based company.

That company is partnering with Appleton’s Memorial Florists & Greenhouses to bring hemp plants to this area.

“We’re consistently looking for new ways to diversify ourselves so over the past three years, as laws have changed for industrial hemp, we’ve explored our options with that,” said Bob Aykens, the owner of the Appleton floral company.

The plan is simple. Hemp plants will be given life at Memorial Florists & Greenhouses and then distributed to local farmers to plant and harvest.

Nearly 25 farmers gathered during an informational session to learn about how they can get involved in this process starting in 2019.

Farmers such as Larry Bentle of Greenville have lots of questions before they invest in hemp, and grow it in their fields.

“I’m interested in the science, I’m interested in what it is as a new crop, what’s the potential for it, what’s the payback on it, what do I have to invest personally to change equipment or buy equipment,” said Bentle.

Hemp is harvested for it’s oils, the seeds for grain, and the stalks for strong, industrial fibers.  It’s a seed that may one day revolutionize the Wisconsin agriculture industry.

“It can have applications across multiple industries and can be a game changer for our economy,” stated Vaught.

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