Wisconsin Hemp Program To Transition To USDA

Wisconsin’s hemp program will transition to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) at the beginning of next year.

Earlier this month, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) announced that the program would make the transition on January 1, 2022.

DATCP currently administers the program.

All states and tribal nations have the option of transitioning their hemp programs to the USDA, like Hawaii, Mississippi, and New Hampshire have done.

North Carolina also recently announced plans to make the transition.

According to DATCP, many producers already work with local USDA Farm Service Agency offices to report crops.

DATCP says the transition aligns with processes already occurring.

Secretary-designee Randy Romanski says DATCP has been committed to working collaboratively with the industry to establish a program for Wisconsin growers since the inception of the state hemp program.

“Through continued outreach with industry stakeholders and USDA, DATCP’s plan is to transition the program from a state-run program to a federal-run program,” says Romanski. “We believe this transition will provide hemp growers with the greatest opportunity to produce hemp in Wisconsin.”

Federal Benefits

Among the benefits of a federal-run program are no licensing fees, licenses that remain valid for three years instead of one, and flexibility in utilizing private sampling and testing services.

DATCP also says that a federal-run hemp program streamlines program rule changes so that growers only need to comply with federal program rules.

So far, DATCP has been responsible for announcing emergency rule changes, updating program operations, and reaching out to growers regarding federal rule changes.

“Because state-run hemp programs must also meet federal requirements, Wisconsin’s hemp program is already in close alignment with USDA,” says DATCP Division of Agriculture Resource Management Administrator Sara Walling. “We are collaborating with USDA for a smooth transition and providing hemp growers with the resources they need to understand any changes.”

DATCP and USDA held a joint webinar on September 15 to show growers how to locate and work with local USDA offices and apply for USDA hemp licenses.

Making the Switch

Wisconsin hemp growers will continue working with DATCP for sample collection, harvest notifications, and testing until December 31, 2021.

Hemp growers will transition to the USDA program on January 1, 2022.

After the transition, growers will no longer need a DATCP license to cultivate or process hemp, though hemp processors will.

DATCP says hemp processors will remain under its authority for consumer and food products.

Wisconsin Hemp Alliance President Rob Richard says the state did a commendable task, creating a hemp program in Wisconsin and helping it thrive for the first four growing seasons.

“We learned a tremendous amount of information about the plant in that time,” says Richard. “Now that USDA has finalized their hemp rule and we’re seeing signs of federal financial resources in hemp research and development, this is absolutely the right time to shift course from a state-centric focused program to a federal program.”