Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers has signed a hemp bill into law that brings the state into line with the Federal 2018 Farm Bill.
Senate Bill 188, now 2019 Wisconsin Act 68, saw a number of changes introduced, including the modification of the definition of the plant – the Act uses the term “hemp” instead of “industrial hemp” throughout.
The Act also repeals Wisconsin’s hemp pilot program, which will occur one year after U.S. Department of Agriculture establishes a plan for regulating production of the crop.
Among other changes is a “truth-in-labeling” requirement forbidding the mislabelling of hemp or a hemp product, including making inaccurate claims about a product’s contents, THC levels, quality or origin.
The Act also clarifies laws governing hemp may not be construed to limit access to products containing cannabidiol (CBD). Additionally, farmers will have greater protection, with a requirement that hemp buyers purchasing under contract must pay the farmer within seven days of taking possession of the hemp.
“I was proud to sign this collaborative, bipartisan bill into law today to ensure the continued success of our hemp program and the many new opportunities hemp provides to Wisconsin farmers,” said Governor Evers on Tuesday.
The Wisconsin Hemp Farmers and Manufacturers Association welcomed the signing of the bill into law, stating it was a “great day to be a hempster in Wisconsin”.
The state is gearing up for another big year for hemp in 2020. At the beginning of this month, the hemp licensing application and registration period for next year’s growing season kicked off, which will again operate under the state’s pilot program.
This year saw huge amount of interest in the pilot program. 1,247 growers and 556 processors were licensed and registered in 2019, with approximately 850 growers actually planting a crop. Total area under hemp cultivation was estimated at 5,000 acres for 2019. Unfortunately, growers faced a tough season, with persistent cold and rainy weather – much the same as the first year of the pilot in 2018.
For 2020, new growers will need to pay a one-time licensing fee ranging from $150 to $1,000. The fee level depends on how many acres growers intend to plant.
Once a leading producer of hemp, the crop was able to make a return to Wisconsin after then-Governor Scott Walker signed Senate Bill 119 into law in 2017.