The Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation and the Wisconsin Hemp Alliance applaud the release of the Growing Opportunities Act authored by, Senator Testin Senator Taylor, Representative Kurtz and Representative Considine for co-sponsorship.
“Wisconsin has a long, storied history with hemp and I am excited to have another crop for farmers to consider in their crop rotations so we can once again become leaders in hemp production,” WFBF President Jim Holte said. “We appreciate the support from our elected officials and the leadership by the authors.”
The Growing Opportunities Act addresses several key areas necessary to implement additional opportunity provided under the 2018 Farm Bill and others discovered during the pilot program.
The bill changes the hemp pilot program to a permanent program under the direction of the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. DATCP will have the ability to establish procedures for maintaining information relating to hemp production, testing THC concentrations in hemp, disposing of noncompliant hemp plants, complying with enforcement provisions and conducting annual inspections of hemp producers.
The bill redefines hemp to be any part of the plant, whether growing or not, that contains less than the federal limit of THC. The act also clarifies that THC from hemp that is in any hemp product is not a Schedule I controlled substance as long as the level of THC in the product is below the legal threshold.
“This is an important distinction to make because there are many hemp-derived products, such as CBD oil, that some people mistake to be in legal limbo,” Holte added.
DATCP will be allowed to establish procedures for planting, processing and testing of hemp products.
Growers will be required to notify DACTP of the varieties they intend to plant to ensure they has been certified for growing in Wisconsin. The bill addresses violations of the program, specifically if a grower violates the program provisions, they will be required to create a compliance plan.
This bill also establishes a contract requirement for processors to pay growers within seven days of taking possession of hemp, unless otherwise agreed upon voluntarily and knowingly by the grower.
The Growing Opportunities Act also requires DATCP to set criteria for third-party testing and prohibits a person from mislabeling hemp or a hemp-derived product to ensure accurate labeling of products.
“This bill is exactly what the industry needs to continue to evolve while providing consumers and law enforcement with comfort and certainty about the safety and legality of hemp products,” Wisconsin Hemp Alliance General Counsel Larry Konopacki said. “Information about industry participants will be more readily available, the regulation of the industry can become more efficient, necessary resources would be provided to DATCP, seed and clone varieties that can be planted will be subject to more regulatory control to ensure crops with compliant THC levels, and updates to controlled substances laws will provide a great deal more regulatory certainty. This bill is a significant step forward, but it is also done in a way that carefully respects the need for appropriate regulation.”
This bill is an important step in moving Wisconsin’s hemp industry forward and aligning more closely with the growing, processing and labeling standards set in the 2018 Farm Bill. Wisconsin Farm Bureau and the Wisconsin Hemp Alliance urge state legislators to co-sponsor the Growing Opportunities Act.