Hemp expo draws hundreds curious about the crop

A hemp farming expo took over Serb Hall in Milwaukee on Friday. This comes after the state started taking applications last week.

The hemp expo served as an opportunity for farmers to learn about regulations and how much money they could make by converting their fields. For others, there were vendors of all sorts showcasing its uses. Hundreds of people from a variety of backgrounds gathered together with a similar interest; getting to know what hemp is all about.

"I've always been intrigued and always wanted to find out the different types of uses of hemp," said Vlad Shteyn of Milwaukee.

Its fibers can be processed into traditional uses of hemp such as rope, clothing and much more.

"These mats can be used for anything from carpet upholstery," said Hemp Farm USA CEO Derek Cross.

However, a majority of industrial hemp farmers grow for its oil that's often used in organic medicine.

"Not everyone works well with Western medicine," said Gypsi Kernats from Hemp Worx. "A lot of people coming back on now want to have something more natural."

For the first time in 75 years, Wisconsinites can grow hemp on rural and urban land if they pass a background check for drug convictions. Melody Walker with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection said it's a crop that should grow well in the state.

"We have 15 complete applications so far, however, we've received hundreds and hundreds of calls and emails," said Walker.

Artie Elmquist already grows industrial hemp in Colorado and made the trip to Wisconsin to help a fellow farmer and business partner join in. He warns farmers to be well versed from seed to sale.

"At the time they plant it they don't often know how they're going to get it harvested or who is going to buy their harvested crop," Elmquist said.

Elmquist grows hemp for medicinal purposes. He said if it's done right, the crop is king.

"There simply is no other crop that can generate as much revenue per acre as hemp," Elmquist said.

Farmers have until May 1 to apply through the Wisconsin Dept. of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection to grow in 2018.

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