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Dept. of Agriculture claims 94% of the state's hemp hasn't sold

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Posted at 6:45 PM, Feb 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-20 19:45:13-05

GREEN LEAF, Wis — GREEN LEAF, Wis (NBC 26) -- Wisconsin's Department of Agriculture estimates that only about six-percent of farmers' 2019 hemp harvest has been sold. That news has left some questioning whether the hemp industry in our state grew too big, too fast.

At Ledge Rock Hemp in Green Leaf, their supply of hemp is supposed to be piled up. That's because here they mill, extract and create their own hemp products all on site. Put another way, they don’t need to worry about someone buying their raw supply of hemp.

But not every hemp farmer is so fortunate. That's because according to the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, hemp in its originally harvested form isn't selling well.

"So there is a lot of people sitting on material right now and nowhere to go. Part of it is lack of processors, lack of planning, especially in trying to create sales of their products," says Brad Hansen the Director of Operations at Ledge Rock Hemp.

According to Brown County Extension Services, only 6 percent of hemp farmers have sold their 2019 harvest. And on top of that, the cost of CBD hemp on the market has dropped from $4.50 a pound in 2018 to just a $1.50 in 2019.

"We're looking at about a seventy percent decrease between last year and this time," says Liz Binversie, an Agriculture Educator with UW Extension Services.

Binversie says part of the problem is likely because the hemp industry may have grown too big, too fast, here in Wisconsin.

"There really isn't a true infrastructure for hemp currently. There is no grain elevator where you can go and just sell your hemp. Each grower has to find their own buyer and that's proven to be pretty challenging," says Binversie.

And while some hemp farmers don't have a problem sitting on their product, all too many others according to Binversie are likely being sold, on a dream.

"I strongly recommend to not bet the farm on this, at least not now. Not until we have the infrastructure needed, not until we have pricing that's maybe a little more reliable."