Wisconsin will continue its hemp cultivation under the 2014 Pilot Program to avoid resorting to the new federal hemp law set to kick in on November 1.
The state moved to clarify confusion for its farmers on what guidelines to follow. It had already submitted a hemp plan that is still pending approval by the United States Department of Agriculture. However, the USDA deadline for October 31 is looming close with the new law expected to take effect anyway with or without a state hemp production plan.
Hemp was legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill, which means that licensed farmers and enterprises can cultivate the crop commercially outside pilot programs. The USDA was slow in crafting a nationwide hemp regulation program; the new law, now that it’s here, is considered by many as highly unfavorable.
States were supposed to submit their hemp plans to the USDA for approval; failure to do so in time will mean that they have to grow the crop under the USDA basic guidelines. However, with many states still unapproved, Congress directed the USDA to extend its deadline for compliance another year for states with pre-existing programs.
Wisconsin, which has had its licensed growers cultivate hemp under the 2014 regulations, previously informed them about the state hemp production plan’s status. The state’s Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection encouraged growers to have their crop sampled and harvested before the deadline.
In a letter to its farmers, the DATCP had warned that the new regulations would subject their hemp to stricter guidelines concerning THC content; therefore, the farmers should act quickly to benefit from the favorable 2014 program while they can.
However, acting on the USDA extension, Wisconsin’s agriculture department stated that it would ordain an emergency ruling to prolong the existing 2014 pilot program.