Despite hemp being legal and having the potential to be a lucrative cash crop for many farmers, banks are still not on board. Wells Fargo and other banks aren’t judging in favor of the risk that this crop brings.
In Denmark, Wisconsin, one couple found this out the hard way. Mark Rozmarynoski and Rebecca Sarazin were both working jobs to keep their failing dairy farm afloat. With the launch of the hemp pilot program, they tested the crop out to see if it would work. After successfully growing a one-acre test plot, they saw a golden opportunity. They quit their jobs, bought a 40-acre farm, and leased hundreds of more acres to grow, dry, and process the hemp.
They set up a line of credit at Denmark State Bank, where they had been long-time customers. After working with them for eight months, they received a call in August telling them that the bank could no longer tolerate the risk involved with the crop.
“We had it all set,” Sarazin told the press. “They were our trusted financial institution, and then, suddenly, they’re not.”
Politicians on both sides of the aisle are battling to convince banks to back hemp.
“We have heard consistently from lawful hemp farmers and producers about the lack of access to financial products,” said one letter that politicians concocted. “Legal hemp businesses should be treated just like any other businesses and not discriminated against.”
Banks are still wary, however, and don’t want to risk losing their business charter being associated with a substance that was so recently banned. Some banks will continue to treat hemp as if it were marijuana. They may budge once federal regulations are more established, but that will take time, and until then, farmers will be stuck waiting.