Trends in the Wisconsin Hemp Market

Wisconsin continues to be a hub for hemp research although hemp production in Wisconsin has gone down due to market oversaturation and shifting regulations. However, UW-Madison Department of Horticulture Research Program Manager Phil Alberti says there’s still opportunity for the crop in America’s Dairyland.

The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp nationwide. In the 2019 growing season, many people jumped at the idea of this potentially high-value crop. The jump in production flooded the market. At the start of 2022, the Hemp Program transitioned from the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection to the USDA. Hemp growers must have their hemp sampled by USDA-certified hemp sampling agents. Alberti, who works in the Ellison Lab at UW, says this shift also led to a decline in licensed acreage as folks got used to the regulatory landscape.

Looking Ahead

  • Hemp in Wisconsin is recognized as an agricultural commodity and can be grown for many types of products, which fall into three main categories: CBD oil, fiber and grain/seed.
  • The value in Wisconsin from hemp continues to be in CBD production if you have a processor lined up, but Alberti says the focus is shifting from small-scale CBD hemp production to larger-scale grain and fiber.
  • The amount of research dollars that are being funneled both at the federal and state levels for hemp – we’re seeing a push toward commercial grain and fiber, even though the processing centers are still getting developed.
  • There’s been an oversupply of hemp over the last few years, but processors are now looking to refill their stocks – a sign of stability.
  • We’re in the stage that corn was in the early 1900s, and so we have a long way to go with establishing this crop, and maybe 20, 30 years from now, we can really see the impacts of the work that’s being done.
  • Given that hemp wasn’t legalized nationwide until 2018, seed certification organizations, such as crop improvement agencies and state departments of agriculture, were wary about getting involved with the shifting regulations. Alberti says now, seed certifications are continuously underway, and the list has been growing.

Update From The Lab

  • The Ellison Lab is collecting wild hemp populations across the state and preserving them for breeding programs. If you know of a wild hemp site, contact the lab, 608-262-9796.
  • If you’re a licensed producer interested in growing grain, fiber or CBD-type hemp, the lab runs several trials and provides seed and testing costs. Growers can keep the material provided it’s compliant at the end of the season.

Resources For Hemp Growers

  • The new Midwestern Hemp Database resembles a variety catalog. Whether you’re growing high cannabinoid hemp or grain-fiber hemp, this is an online resource with research reports from university trials on performance, development, and compliance.
  • Another resource for hemp in Wisconsin is Emerging Crops. It includes links to all of the research trials that the university is going to be running, ways to get involved and people to contact.
  • Rural Mutual hemp farm insurance provides coverage for harvesting and storing of industrial hemp, custom farming operations, drying and processing hemp.
  • Rural Mutual commercial hemp coverage includes hauling hemp, custom farming operations, drying, processing and manufacturing hemp and its products, retail sales of industrial hemp

Insurance companies like Rural Mutual have expanded their offerings to include specific hemp growers insurance products such as crop hail and farm coverage. For more information on appropriate hemp farm insurance coverage, contact your local Rural Mutual Insurance agent.