WI: Hemp, Hemp, Hooorraay

Photo Credit: Laura Peters

On Wednesday, Jan. 10, 120 Coulee Region residents learned about industrial hemp product and business development opportunities by attending informational seminars coordinated by Vernon Economic Development Association at the Food Enterprise Center.

The first lesson; marijuana and industrial hemp are not the same. Industrial hemp is non-psychoactive with very low THC – its name is cannabis sativa plant. It is a sustainable resource that can be used for thousands of products such as textiles, construction, personal care and food products. Currently, the United States imports just under $600 million industrial hemp-related products from Canada and China.

Vernon Economic Development Association brought Ken Anderson, President and Founder of Legacy Hemp, located in Prescott, Wisconsin, to the community for three seminars.

The information focused on the emerging markets for grain production with industrial hemp and to promote the opportunity for innovative product development. Anderson and business partner Neil Reiten, a North Dakota industrial hemp farmer, met with businesses representatives, bankers, entrepreneurs, product innovators and farmers from across the region.

Legacy Hemp is America’s first provider of hemp cultivars (seeds). The company provides the infrastructure to bring hemp into developing markets. Anderson and Reiten repeatedly shared the company’s commitment to soil health, plant health, and human health providing the resurgence of industrial hemp with its commitment to top tier X-59 quality products. To ensure quality, Legacy Hemp handpicks farm partners to produce premium organic hemp grain for its food grade markets.

Legacy Hemp is the exclusive provider of X-59 Hempseed. X-59 Hempnut boasts superb shatter resistance, large grain size, and a sweet and nutty taste like no other. This grain is nutritiously dense in protein and omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.

Legacy Hemp has identified four Wisconsin regions as potential places to build a $4.5 million wholesale industrial hemp grain processing plant.  The grain processing plant is projected to provide 16 full-time jobs to the area. Employment opportunities include agronomy research, grain handling, mechanical engineering, administration and sales.

“The Coulee Region is currently our top choice for Legacy Hemp’s first industrial hemp grain processing plant,” Anderson stated.  “The decision will be made during the next 21 days while Legacy Hemp continues discussions regarding economic development incentives with Vernon Economic Development Association, municipalities, financial institutions, utilities and community partners.”

Legacy Hemp’s mission is to establish an entirely domestic, vertical operation, providing organic hemp seeds and hemp oils to manufacturers ensuring prosperity and security for American farmers.

Wisconsin growers will be able to grow and process industrial hemp under 2017 Wisconsin Act 100, a law recently passed by the state legislature and signed by the governor on November 30, 2017.

The law allows only production of industrial hemp of the species Cannabis sativa, with THC concentration of 0.3 percent or lower. This is a pilot program to study growth, cultivation and marketing of industrial hemp.  Participants will be required to obtain a license from DATCP to grow hemp, and to pass a background check before receiving a license.

DATCP will complete the emergency rule by March 2, 2018. This rule will remain in effect until July 2020, or until DATCP completes the permanent administrative rule – whichever comes earlier. There will be public hearings and other opportunities for public comment on the permanent rule.

Anderson concluded each session by asking Coulee Region residents if they are ready to bring industrial hemp back to Wisconsin by growing organic hemp grain, innovating new hemp products and creating new hemp-related businesses. How will you be involved?