‘It’s going to help save this little farm’: Dane County farmer to grow industrial hemp for CBD oil

Plants to go in the ground in mid-June
‘It’s going to help save this little farm’: Dane County farmer to grow industrial hemp for CBD oil

Just south of Mt. Horeb, John Eichorst is getting ready to start planting industrial hemp, something that hasn’t been done legally in Wisconsin since 1957.

“We had processors come to us interested in our crop already,” Eichorst said. “So I think in a way, it’s going to help save this little farm.”

He and his wife became licensed in April under the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection’s industrial hemp research pilot program.

The Eichorsts’ LLC is called “Mount Horeb Hemp.” They plan to send their crop to a processor who can extract cannabidiol, or CBD, oil.

There are two types of licenses under DATCP, one for those who wish to grow industrial hemp and another for those who wish to process the crop.

The latest numbers from DATCP show 368 applications to the pilot program were filed prior to the May 1 deadline. Of those, 264 applications were for hemp growers and the other 104 were for hemp processors.

Since then, 136 Wisconsinites have become licensed under the pilot program: 106 are growers, and the other 30 are processors, according to DATCP.

“We are blowing the doors off this thing,” said Rob Richard, with the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation. “The fact that we have this many applicants — no other state in their first year has come close to what Wisconsin’s doing.”

Farmers and stores across Wisconsin became worried after the state’s Department of Justice released a memo last week saying it was not legal to produce CBD oil in Wisconsin.

However, after meeting with Richard and the state lawmakers who authored the bill creating the hemp pilot program, DOJ officials reversed their decision, saying CBD oil that was produced and sold under the hemp pilot program is considered legal.

Eichorst, a master electrician, decided to grow hemp after Gov. Scott Walker signed a law creating the hemp-growing program in November. Eichorst and his wife were looking for ways to make money off their land.

“We looked at growing raspberries or do a you-pick strawberries or do Christmas trees,” he said.

The licensing process was extensive, but after the paperwork came in the mail, Eichorst bought hemp seeds from Boring Hemp Company, which is based in the state of Oregon.

“We’ll probably get them started in the greenhouse here in the next week or two,” he said.

He plans to put the plants in his half-acre of land in mid June and hopes to harvest the crop in October.