The Wisconsin Bankers Association is seeking more transparency around hemp producers and processors in the state, as bankers navigate shifting regulations at the state and national level.

“One of the things we are looking to make happen is more openness in that dialogue between DATCP and the financial institutions looking at banking with these customers,” said Scott Birrenkott, assistant director of legal for WBA.

After a law was passed authorizing a pilot program for industrial hemp in the state, engagement with the program has risen significantly.

The state issued 242 grower licences and 93 processor licences in 2018, the first year of the program. So far this year, that’s already grown to more than 1,400 growers and 711 processors. And the new head of the DATCP, Brad Pfaff, has requested a funding increase to help meet certain requirements related to industrial hemp.

Hemp businesses are required to file “a ton of paperwork” with the DATCP, Birrenkott said, but all the information they submit is kept private.

He says when the legislation was being written, authors likely didn’t anticipate that banks would want access to these records. But now that more businesses are exploring the possibilities of hemp, bankers in Wisconsin are paying attention.

“There are rules and regulations that banks have to know their customer,” he said. “It’s very important they understand what this business in engaged in.”

BIrrenkott explains that banks are very comfortable dealing with farmers planting corn, soybeans or other common crops because they already understand the risks.

“They know good soil conditions, they know good weather,” he said. Read the full story here.