Hemp bill passes Wisconsin Senate; Galesville family harvests first hemp crop

A bill designed to help hemp farmers in Wisconsin is moving to the state Assembly after overwhelming passing the state Senate. The bill would allow Wisconsin’s Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection to have control of the state program.

In the first year of the program in 2018, Wisconsin issued 250 hemp growing licenses but applications have increased more than tenfold this year, according to The Associated Press. One hemp farmer said the production of CBD products is still new and there is still a lot of work to be done.

Galesville is home for the Brady family.

“I have lived here all my life, for 48 years,” said Michael Brady.

He said he spent 21 of those years on his family’s farm.

“We started with hay, and then we moved into row crops,” Brady said.

This year, he said, the family is growing something a little different. Brady said he wanted to help out a friend who works for Driftless Therapeutics, which sells CBD products.

“This is the first crop we have done,” Brady said. “I thought it would be a unique opportunity to give it a whirl.”

Hemp farming is an industry taking off across Wisconsin. Brady manages more about 6,000 plants on two sites.

“I would say that’s more than what a person should be doing,” Brady said. “That’s a lot of work.”

His wife Pam said they’re still learning how to farm hemp.

“I think the biggest change for me is the smell,” she said.

The work is far from easy.

“I’ve never slept so much in my life,” Brady said “You wake up and you’re ready for a nap.”

He said there are numerous challenges, such as weather and scams.

“People are selling bad seeds,” Brady said. “There are people who say they can process, getting contracts, and then you find out they don’t even have a facility.”

He said he would like to see legislation limiting the number of hemp businesses in a single area. Brady said cross-pollination between a seed hemp farm and a CBD hemp farm can ruin a CBD crop.

“At least at the county level, where they would make sure that there is no one in the immediate area trying to grow seed where people are trying to grow CBD,” he said.

There is also a lot of misinformation according to Brady.

“It’s not marijuana. You could actually smoke this whole field and not get (a high) from it,” Brady said.

By law, plants have to have a THC content of less than 0.3 percent. Brady’s crop contains a trace amount to no THC.

“There’s barely any,” he said.

This year’s yield will be used for CBD products that are in high demand for people seeking alternatives to treat health issues such as pain relief.

“They all have to meet food-grade organic,” Brady said.

He said they are not sure if they will continue to produce hemp, because in farming, the yield is only worth as much as the paper it returns.

“Until your crop is sold, it isn’t worth anything,” Brady said. “We hope we are going to do all right. Time will tell.”

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