New Crop Insurance Coverage Available for Wisconsin Hemp Farmers – Shepherd Express

New Crop Insurance Coverage Available for Wisconsin Hemp Farmers - Shepherd Express

Wisconsin is among 21 states where hemp farmers will be eligible for a new pilot insurance program for their crops starting this year. This program will make Actual Production History (APH) coverage under Multi-Peril Crop Insurance available to Wisconsin farmers. The pilot program will be available to farmers who grow hemp for fiber, grain or cannabidiol (CBD) in the 2020 crop year.

“APH policies insure producers against yield losses due to natural causes such as drought, excessive moisture, hail, wind, frost, insects and disease,” the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) explains. Farmers can choose up to 85% of the average yield to insure, as well as a percentage of the crops’ value between 55% and 100%.

The other states that will benefit from this pilot program are Alabama, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Virginia.

Another Win for Hemp

This represents an important step toward the reestablishment of hemp as a legitimate and important crop. When President Donald Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill into law in December 2018, hemp was federally legalized, designating it as a commodity crop. But it took nearly a fully year for the USDA to draft the roadmap to bring hemp into the realm of legitimacy, and we are still in that transition period. Starting Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019, and until the same date next year, interim regulations will rule the budding market surrounding hemp.

One of the key issues that required regulation by the USDA is crop insurance. It’s incredibly risky to bet one’s livelihood on a crop that could be wiped out by bad weather or a single natural disaster. This is particularly true in Wisconsin, where the cold and wet climate is not best suited to grow hemp. “This crop, whether growing it for grain, fiber or CBD, doesn’t like wet weather,” said Bryan Parr, agronomist for Minnesota-based company Legacy Hemp. “That’s unfortunate, because for the two years that we’ve been able to grow this crop in Wisconsin, that’s the type of weather we’ve had to deal with. It’s difficult for farmers, because they can’t get their work done on time, and it created additional challenges such as weeds and diseases.”

RELATED: Tickets are now on sale for our first-ever WI Cannabis Expo to be held Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020 at the Wisconsin Center. The one-day expo will feature exhibitors and talks by experts in the cannabis, CBD and hemp industry. For more information, visit

In August, 2019, the USDA initially announced that some industrial hemp growers would be able to obtain crop insurance under the Whole-Farm Revenue Protection program in 2020, but that it would be limited to “hemp grown for fiber, flower or seeds.” This excludes farmers who cultivate hemp for its CBD and represent a large portion of local hemp growers in Wisconsin. Another option for our farmers will be the Nursery Crop Insurance program, which will be available starting 2021. Once the U.S. leaves its current transitionary period, hemp will be treated as the commodity crop the law now designates it as; meanwhile, the insurance pilot program serves to protect hemp farmers.

Multi-Peril Crop Insurance will only be available through private crop insurance agents. To be eligible for it, Wisconsin hemp growers must comply with the state’s hemp pilot research program, which was established in March 2018. They must also have “at least one year of history producing the crop and have a contract for the sale of insured hemp,” according to a USDA statement, which also warns that “hemp having THC [tetrahydrocannabinol] above the federal statutory compliance level will not constitute an insurable cause of loss.”


Jan. 21, 2020

2:00 a.m.

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