Hemp-related businesses are on the rise in Wisconsin, following the state’s first growing season for the crop in more than 60 years.
That’s according to Sen. Patrick Testin, who touted his recently introduced hemp bill yesterday before an audience of about 200 bankers, as part of the Wisconsin Bankers Association’s Capitol Day event.
The Stevens Point Republican co-authored the bipartisan bill with input from DATCP as well as farming groups including the Wisconsin Hemp Alliance. He says the bill would align the state’s hemp pilot program with the recent federal farm bill. It also includes a “truth in labeling” provision to give processors, retailers, and consumers more peace of mind about the products they’re buying or selling.
“I think the legislation that we have introduced is going to make this program more user-friendly; it’s going to open up even more doors,” Testin said. “This is really about opportunities for Wisconsin farmers, manufacturers, as well as our financial institutions. I’m hoping you guys get some customers out of this.”
“Some banks might want to ask very little information because they are comfortable with it and maybe they understand the hemp industry because of their location,” said Scott Birrenkott, Wisconsin Bankers Association (WBA). “We’re dealing with our general good faith bank secrecy act, know your customer regulations.”
Last year a poll by WBA showed 17% of its members were interested in accepting hemp customers. Since then Birrenkott said the number continues to grow.
“It’s definitely a sign that they’re thinking about it and others might not have a big agriculture presence, so they might not be as familiar with it and have more questions for their customers.”