Hemp leapt a major hurdle with the passing of the farm bill in late December. But despite being removed from the Controlled Substance Act and now being treated as a commodity, a recent Wisconsin Bankers Association survey showed low confidence in the crop.

The survey, which was given to 95 Wisconsin bank CEOs and presidents, asked two hemp-related questions. The first was: “If the 2018 Farm Bill changes the federal view of hemp, will your bank actively seek to provide loans to industrial hemp farmers and/or processors in Wisconsin?” This question was followed by: “Do you think industrial hemp will provide enough revenue to stabilize revenue streams for Wisconsin farmers?”

From the responding bankers, 83 percent responded to both of the questions “no.”

Leo Braun, agricultural lender with AbbyBank of Abbotsford, said they currently do not have any hemp farmers but are not opposed to the idea. Braun said despite being open to discussing financing with these farmers, he doesn’t see a whole lot of interest in the crop, as of yet, in his lending area.

“A wide portion of our lending area is in Clark and Marathon County, which are the two largest dairy counties in Wisconsin. We have great diversity with tie stall, stanchion, parlor, and robotic setups,” he said. “There is so much competition for bare land out in our area for crop farming and the dairy industry that I do not see farmers in our area coming to me soon asking to finance the hemp crop.”

Read more in the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram.