Farmers who grow hemp in Wisconsin want a piece of the agriculture aid package taking shape at the state Capitol. 

The Wisconsin Hemp Alliance on Monday said lawmakers in Madison are looking to help dairymen and farmers across the state with a sweeping package of proposed laws. The hemp growers want something of their own. 

Namely, they want to see Senate Bill 817 – which would establish a Wisconsin Hemp Fiber Innovation and Technology Accelerator in the Institute for Sustainable Technology at the University of Stevens Point – become law. 

“Everyone in the hemp industry knows exactly how important this first step is for fiber,” said Rob Richard, President of the Wisconsin Hemp Alliance. “As legislators look for ways to bring innovation, diversification and market expansion to Wisconsin agriculture, they absolutely should not ignore the long-term growth potential in hemp.”

The broader agriculture package under consideration at the statehouse includes money for the University of Wisconsin System to study cutting edge technology for farmers and to see how the university system can help smaller and rural communities across Wisconsin. 

Richard said the same thinking works for hemp.

“UW-Stevens Point’s current programming avails itself very well to becoming an instant leader in this field and a community partner with Wisconsin hemp farmers,” Richard said. 

Ed Liegel, the CEO of Driftless Extracts in Lone Rock in southwestern Wisconsin, said other universities in other states already are aggressively pursuing hemp research. Liegel said UW Stevens Point could be Wisconsin’s leader. 

“We’re asking legislators to recognize and understand the industry need for the Accelerator program.” Liegel said. “Once they do, our farmers win, hemp wins and Wisconsin agriculture wins. Time is short, but the legislature can still get this done for our farmers.” 

Lawmakers in Madison are expected to approve the broader agriculture package this week. The Assembly and the Senate are on pace to wrap up their business by the end of the month.