(Madison) – Confidence in hemp is low among Wisconsin bankers according to a recent Wisconsin Bankers Association survey of 95 Wisconsin bank CEOs and presidents despite farmers and businesses looking more closely at the product.

The survey asked two questions regarding hemp.

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?”

83% of the responding bankers replied “no,” with 17% responding affirmatively.

The response rate stayed the same when asked, “Do you think industrial hemp will provide enough revenue to stabilize revenue streams for Wisconsin farmers?”

The passage of the Farm Bill into law has intensified the discussion and scrutiny on the growth potential of the hemp market. Wisconsin’s Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection is drafting a plan for submission to the USDA for “primary regulatory control” as authorized in the bill.

Many Wisconsin bankers say that not enough is known about the crop including cost, price, yield, returns, contracts, and markets. Now that hemp and all its derivatives have been removed from the Controlled Substances Act, it will be treated as a crop. As the industry grows, the data needed for bankers to make agricultural lending decisions will also increase and ease their current concerns.

In Kentucky, where the development of the hemp industry closely parallels Wisconsin, the crop produced $25.6 million in capital improvements and $16.7 million is gross product sales in 2017. With numbers like that, it’s likely that bankers, farmers, and business owners will work together to find common ground.