Hemp. What do you think of when you see that word? Do you chuckle or roll your eyes? Is your inner voice saying, “Seriously?”
After I was first asked to delve deeper into the issue about a year ago, that was me too.
Now that a year has passed, I’m sold. Absolutely and unequivocally. It didn’t take a year to convince me that hemp is a legitimate crop with innumerable beneficial uses. As I researched it extensively and talked to a few experts from around the country on the science, economics and politics of hemp, the convincing only took about a week.
I became even more intrigued when I found out that Wisconsin has an incredibly rich and storied history in hemp’s development and production during the first half of the twentieth century. I was proud to learn that Wisconsin farmers were making considerable contributions to the war effort during WWII when our country’s supply lines to Southeast Asia were cut off. The U.S. Government relied on farmers to grow hemp for rope, parachute webbing, soldiers’ uniforms and shoes and various other uses. When our country called, our farmers answered.
Reefer Madness in the 1930s and the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 unjustifiably stigmatized hemp with its more controversial cousin, marijuana. However, I don’t want to dwell on the past. I want to look to the future and have an honest and intelligent discussion about hemp. We annually import more than $600 million of hemp products into this country yet farmers can’t grow it. Wisconsin Farm Bureau believes it’s time for American farmers to reap the economic benefits of hemp production in the same way every industrialized country in the world permits their farmers. We’ve found many other Farm Bureau members from other states feel the same.
WFBF sent a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue asking him to take a closer look at this issue and recommend to the President that it’s finally time to call hemp what it really is – a crop. Please take a look at the letter, share it and let’s get a national conversation started.