WITTENBERG, Wis. (WAOW) – This fall, some Wisconsin farmers are harvesting hemp for the first time in five decades. Last November Governor Walker and state legislators approved a law allowing farmers to grow the crop.
The new law has strict provisions to make sure people can’t mix marijuana into their fields, and requires farmers and processors to renew their licenses every year.
On Sunday, State Senator Patrick Testin visited Deb and Michael Omernick who are some of the first farmers to obtain licenses and grow hemp. They’ve tested different ways of growing the crop in their nearly 37 acre field and are excited to keep learning about the plant.
But the the legalization of the crop has been somewhat controversial. Hemp and Marijuana are both varieties of cannabis sativa, but hemp doesn’t have the same levels of the intoxicating substance, THC, that marijuana does. Marijuana can consist of up to 30 percent THC, while hemp has less than 0.3 percent.
“It’s kind of sad that it’s classified as a drug along with marijuana because it’s really two different plants,” Deb said.
State Senator Testin has big hopes for the crop.
“This is really beneficial for the entire state, particularly our ag[sic] industry. I think you’re gonna see in the next five to ten years Wisconsin is going to once again be a national leader in this crop.”
Besides financial benefits to the agriculture industry, Testin hopes hemp brings new industries to Wisconsin and helps grow existing industries.