Clements: Hemp industry research suggests industrial hemp could provide a multi-billion-dollar market for U.S. farmers. Rob Richard, senior director for government relations, Wisconsin Farm Bureau, says Farm Bureau members pledged support for the legalization of industrial hemp prior to the last farm bill.
Richard: They basically took a position to support the marketing, commercialization, the legalization of industrial hemp. The ’14 farm bill passed provisions that would allow states to set up hemp pilot programs. So, that’s what we did here in the state of Wisconsin.
Clements: Richard says there are many markets available for U.S. farmers.
Richard: We are right now as a country the largest importer of hemp products in the world. So, even though we can’t legally grow it in this country except through the pilot program, we’re definitely importing it. So, we have about a 600 or 700-million-dollar market there that American farmers can fill. But, as word gets out as it is marketed more, you’re going to see an expansion.
Clements: The U.S. hemp market could develop into a 2-3 billion dollar industry. Richard says there are many uses for industrial hemp beyond the traditional textiles and rope.
Richard: Over the years, the uses of it have really developed and expanded, we’re talking hundreds if not thousands of uses for this whether it’s in construction, going into the textiles, personal care items to the high-tech world. Once we get hemp removed from the Controlled Substance Act, I think it’s really going to open up the industry as a whole.
Clements: Micheal Clements, Washington.