FACEBOOK LIVE ON MAY 14: Conserving American Ginseng

Hsu’s Ginseng Enterprises, Inc. is dedicated to the preservation of wild American ginseng and propagation of cultivated American ginseng in Wisconsin and across the United States. As part of this shared cultural history that spans over 300 years since the discovery of Panax quinquefolius L. in North America, we’re proud to support programs such as the Smithsonian Institution’s Folklife Festival. Due to the widespread impact of COVID-19, this year’s festival has been postponed, however, celebrations of our heritage and stories about the lives of those working in the ginseng industry continue.

We hope that you take the time to tune in on Thursday, May 14 at Noon EDT/11 AM CDT via Facebook Live to hear the stories of three pioneering women working with ginseng: Susan Leopold of the United Plant Savers; Anna Plattner from the American Ginseng Pharm, and Anna Lucio, the wild ginseng coordinator for the State of Kentucky’s Dept. of Agriculture. They will be talking about  their own roles in ginseng conservation, how they all came to be passionate about saving the plant for the future, and their opinions on the impact of COVID-19 on the world of ginseng.  You and others joining live will be able to comment, react, and ask questions via the chat function.


Real-time captioning will be available for this presentation, available at this link: http://bitly.com/folklifeCART. We recommend opening it in a separate browser window or on a separate device.


This week, Dave Eckmann of Greater Wausau Chamber of Commerce interviews Will Hsu, the President of Hsu’s Ginseng Enterprises, talking about how Will is navigating Hsu’s Ginseng under the Covid-19 pandemic.

Elevated Conversations Podcast – Will Hsu (Part One)

Elevated Conversations Podcast – Will Hsu (Part Two)

A letter from the President of Hsu’s


To our customers, vendors, employees and community:

These are unprecedented times for our company and our country. While a few of us were here for SARS in 2003, many have watched the responses in China, Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong with concerned interest the past few months, while those of us in Wisconsin likely felt isolated from or immune to the effects COVID-19 was having on people around the world. Now that we have seen how unprepared we were in the US with events unfolding this past weekend, we are seeing the natural reflex of people and governments to react in response to new developments. Rest assured that all of us at Hsu’s have been and will continue to keep a close eye on things as the response and recommendations change or evolve daily. This is a fluid situation and we hope to get more things right than wrong, but we won’t be right 100% of the time and I ask for your forgiveness ahead of time.

What’s at stake for all of us, regardless of how long this takes for the pandemic to pass (and it will pass as do all things with time), is the future of the company and our industry. This is difficult for all of us on top of the trade war with China and tariffs over the past two years on our products; however, we will not let this break our spirit and will continue to meet or exceed your expectations.  I stand steadfast with our staff in our commitment to see us through these dark times with hopes of a brighter tomorrow.

In light of that, our plan as a company moving forward is to:

  1. Increase routine facility cleaning and review hygiene policies and practices with staff encouraging hand washing and other protective techniques.
  2. Encourage the use of face masks by employees for all product related production, including picking and packaging, as well as office or administrative staff for personal interactions during working hours. Hsu’s will provide masks to employees and staff that meet FDA and state food safety standards.
  3. Increase the use of technology to avoid in-person meetings and keep lines of communication open while also reducing staffing levels to allow more social distancing during working hours in the office. Employees who are able to perform their functions at home will be asked to do so.
  4. Suspend all international business-related travel and significantly reduce domestic travel prohibiting any travel to areas where community transmission is ongoing.
  5. Make changes to our paid sick time policy to give more flexibility to employees and ensure that all employees are paid during this time of reduced demand, business and contact.

In order to do this we have made scheduling changes to our work force schedules and will close our local company store in Wausau to purchases and close our farm to tours for the foreseeable future until conditions warrant reopening. We know that as a family business many of our employees are parents or caregivers for elderly parents or family members, with schools closed and limits on elderly activities, we wanted to ensure our employees are also there for their loved ones. For that reason effective immediately, our employees will only be working 2-3 days per week, with approximately half of the staff we normally operate with to allow for social distancing in both office and production settings. As a licensed food manufacturing facility, we already have current operating procedures for hygiene and cleanliness and continue to review and reiterate those with staff, encouraging anyone who is ill or has symptoms to stay home until they are better or they are cleared to return to work.

We do not wish for COVID-19 and our response to create financial hardship for our employees, so for that reason, we are guaranteeing 32-40 hours of paid time per week (our company definition of full-time employees) for all employees regardless of hours worked. Any shortages will be covered by the company or through a generous sick time bank of over 1100 hours donated by management and senior management from their personal time accrued. We hope that all of you have confidence in us and the products that we deliver to your door. Thank you for your trust and your business. I appreciate your years as our loyal customers and hope that all of us at Hsu’s are here for you for years to come.

Be well, live healthily!

Will Hsu

President, Hsu’s Ginseng Enterprises, Inc.

Ginseng grower says festival postponement highlights difficulty with trade, Coronavirus

(Source: WASA-TV Channel 7)

By Stella Porter | Posted: Mon 4:16 PM, Mar 09, 2020  | Updated: Mon 6:44 PM, Mar 09, 2020

WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) — The International Ginseng Festival is postponed until 2022. A big reason why is the Coronavirus.

A Hsu’s employee works with the product (WSAW Photo).

“It’s basically best for the public and best right now, with the travel restrictions, trying to get people to sign up, especially from China. It makes it very difficult to have a successful event,” said Richard Barrett, executive director of the Wausau Central Wisconsin Convention and Visitors Bureau.

But there’s another factor at play.

The senior operations director at Hsu’s Ginseng Enterprises, Mike Klemp-North, says they were already looking at alternative products to sustain their business amid trade tariffs when the Coronavirus came along, since most ginseng in Marathon County is exported to China. While all ginseng farmers are taking a hit, t’s the smaller ones he’s worried about.

“What about the farmers who said, I have two acres in my backyard and I want to do this and invest and put equity into it. What about them? They are the voices that aren’t going to be heard in this,” Klemp-North said.

Following Monday’s announcement, Klemp-North says Covid-19 is another barrier in a laundry list of trade issues over the past few years. But he’s more concerned about the smaller operations they work with.

“It’s hard to hear, and it’s hard to understand as outsiders, what they’re feeling,” he said.

It’s hard to get the product to Asia due to ports there being closed.

“Last time I checked, we have at least two shipments sitting here in port in the United States, waiting to go overseas because there’s lack of cargo containers and lack of ships. We are so reliant on countries that are epicenters of this virus,” he said.

Covid-19 means Asian tourists aren’t buying the product in Chinatowns across the U.S., where a lot of the product is sold to visitors.

“We’re not seeing that business because of the result of the tourist implications of Covid-19. Now all of a sudden, we have another curveball, so now how are we going to change and address this new obstacle?” he asked.

As for the ginseng festival, which draws between 8,000 and 10,000 people to Wausau, not having it will mean a loss of about $3 million to the local economy.

Despite that, Wausau Mayor Robert Mielke is confident the event will be back and better than it was before.

“Stay positive, stay optimistic. When it comes back, it’s going to be even stronger and better than ever,” Mielke said.

Central WI Legislators, Assembly Republicans Introduce Agriculture Package

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                    February 10, 2020 

CONTACT: Rep. Patrick Snyder              (608) 266-0654 

Legislators announced seven bills at press conferences across the state, including at Hsu Ginseng Farm 

Madison Central Wisconsin Republicans joined with Assembly Republicans from across Wisconsin to discuss a package of agriculture bills that were announced during press conferences held throughout the state. Representative Pat Snyder (R-Schofield), Representative John Spiros (R-Marshfield), and Representative Scott Krug (R-Nekoosa) were joined by Will Hsu, President of Hsu Ginseng Enterprises, Inc. to discuss the package.  

“Family farms are the heart and soul of our state, making up a huge part of our state’s economy,” Rep. Spiros said. “Representing a rural area, I’ve heard from constituents about the struggles farmers are going through, and I think we owe it to them to help out where we can.” 

The legislators discussed the contents of seven bills, three of which will provide for more UW System research on Agriculture.  

“I’m excited that my colleagues and I have made progress on legislation regarding agriculture in Wisconsin, and particularly the UW research station located in Hancock, Waushara County,” Rep. Krug said. “These research positions are very important to my constituents and to all Wisconsinites.” 

Additionally, the package provides tax cuts for farmers; increases Dairy Processing Plant Grants; and creates an Export Ag Program at the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, focused on expanding export markets in Wisconsin.  

“Wisconsin is a leader in production of numerous agricultural products, like the ginseng produced here in Wausau,” Rep. Snyder added, “but that doesn’t mean our famers are immune to hardships. This package of bills aims to provide some relief through easing the financial burden on farmers, while providing some additional resources for farmers and for expanding our export markets”.   

The bills will be heard in the Committee on Agriculture on Tuesday, February 11th.  

The Uncertain Fate of American Ginseng

By Wang Xiaonan, Li Qinling


After an erratic summer, the world’s two economic titans are now bracing for a lengthy, bitter fight spilling

After an erratic summer, the world’s two economic titans are now bracing for a lengthy, bitter fight spilling into almost every industry. With agriculture on the frontlines of this war, rotten inventories, scowling farmers and bankruptcy filings have reshaped the U.S.’ prized farming industry.

Stories of soybeans, corn, almonds, cherries, lobsters – to name a few – have dominated headlines in the past year and a half. On top of those produce items, which are vital to bilateral trade, American ginseng, a product that hasn’t received nearly as much coverage, is also hurting.

Ginseng from the United States, which used to have a 7.5 percent tariff on exports to its largest market – China, encountered a turn in its fate last April. At the time, Beijing announced an additional 15 percent tax on 128 American agricultural products ranging from soybeans to ginseng in retaliation to the Trump administration’s tariff salvo on steel and aluminum.

But the tariff hike did not stop there. On the roller-coaster ride of the trade spat, American ginseng in China now suffers from a 41.5 percent tariff. Robert Kaldinski, president of the Ginseng Board of Wisconsin, said that the issue has spun out of control for the first time.

American ginseng is sold at the Ginseng Mark Inc. store in Arcadia, California, June 20, 2010. /VCG Photo

Wisconsin, a traditional swing state, has over a century’s experience in growing ginseng. “The North American variety of ginseng that is here originally was something you just kind of go [get] in the woods, and hopefully you can find some,” Ben Clark, an archivist for the Marathon County Historical Society, told CGTN.

It wasn’t until the 1990s that farmers in Wisconsin, especially in the state’s Marathon County, started growing ginseng on farms, leading to a golden age for the ginseng industry across the state, where mineral-rich soil, moderate sunshine and rain create an optimum environment for growing the vulnerable crop.

China, a country with a tradition of eating ginseng roots, is the world’s largest market for the prime Wisconsin ginseng. In 2017, China was the largest buyer of U.S. ginseng exports valued at some 30 million U.S. dollars. “We did not have any crop leftovers. It was all purchased and sold and distributed before the tariff hike,” Kaldinski said told CGTN. But now half of the crop remains in inventory.

A Chinese dish using ginseng. /VCG Photo

Will Hsu, president of Hsu’s Ginseng Enterprises, feels increasingly frustrated. “Normally by this time of the year, we have very little left. This year we have probably about 10,000 or 15,000 pounds that have yet to ship,” said Hsu.

He found himself caught in the tough times after inheriting his family business – one of the largest American ginseng farm operations – only last year. “The trade war is probably the biggest crisis I have seen in 45 years in this business because we rely on the Chinese market,” said his father Paul, who retired a year ago. Starting in 1974, he has expanded his empire to over 1,000 acres of virgin ginseng land. Hsu’s Ginseng takes up 10 percent of the Chinese market.

For Marathon’s ginseng industry, the problem is no longer about sales and profits but whether they can move the crop into China given the price hike. “Last year we were hurt somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 to 15 [U.S.] dollars per pound on the price,” said Joe Heil, president of Heil Ginseng, who’s been growing ginseng for over two decades.

What makes the situation more complicated is Washington’s increased tariffs on steel. “We import steel cable every year for use as hardware to string along the gardens to support the fabric,” Hsu told CGTN.

VCG Photo

The 25 percent tariff on Chinese steel imports is, in the short run, bringing the country’s steel back, but making this sector – highly concentrated in swing states – lose more. U.S. Steel in Michigan, for example, has started laying off workers. And ginseng is just one of the myriad sectors exposed to the ripple effects of the steel levies.

Moreover, a decline in Chinese tourists to the United States because of mounting bilateral tensions has been taking a toll on ginseng retail sales. According to the U.S.’ New Commerce Department, the number of Chinese tourists to the U.S. dropped by almost 6 percent in 2018. In New York City alone, spending from Chinese visitors went down 12 percent over the first quarter of this year.

While a slew of soybean farmers turned to growing corn, it’s not easy for ginseng growers to veer to other crops. “The ginseng [is] planted in August and we don’t harvest it for five years,” Heil told CGTN. Exploring other markets outside China also poses a challenge as it requires time and massive investment. For this kind of long-term crop, it’s hard to make short-term decisions.

“With the trade war, I am not sure if I will continue to grow ginseng or if I can make any money growing ginseng,” Heil said.

Writer: Wang Xiaonan

Video journalist: Li Qinling

Video editor: Wang Yue’er

Cover graphic editor: Liu Shaozhen

Supervisor: Mei Yan

Wisconsin Ginseng Farmers Feel Effects of Trade War With China

The latest news about Trade War with China 
May 22, 2019

Trade talks between China and the United States fell apart a few weeks ago. Now, the two countries are promising to levy new tariffs on each other’s goods. One commodity caught in the crosshairs: American-grown ginseng root.

People who use ginseng often take it by steaming whole root or slices for teas and soups, steeping tea bags or ingesting pills or other products. It’s a known component of traditional Chinese medicine. And Wisconsin growers produce more than 90 percent of the U.S. crop.

Will Hsu, president of Hsu’s Ginseng in Wausau, says the trade war with China has had a dramatic impact on ginseng farmers in central Wisconsin. He says that’s because about 90% of the ginseng grown in Wisconsin is exported to greater China — mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

“Now the tariff only applies to ginseng directly imported into China,” Hsu adds. “Probably anywhere from a third to half of the ginseng grown here is sent to China for processing. So those sales have declined precipitously in the last six to nine months, as we’ve been going through the trade war and as tariffs have been escalating.”

He says the price that local ginseng farms have been getting for their crop over the last six months has been 20-30% lower than what it was in 2017 and 2018.

As a result, farmers, Hsu says, will start to plant less this year, with some farmers taking on debt or tapping into equity that they’ve built up over the past years.

The Wisconsin ginseng industry hasn’t seen a market like this since the late 1990s when Canada increased its supply and flooded the market, says Hsu. But he says this current situation isn’t one caused by oversupply.

“Demand has been pretty steady the last 5-10 years. This is an external shock from the standpoint of adding what was initially a 20% tariff, and as of June 1 will go to an additional 10%, so an additional 30% tariff that was on ginseng into China.”

It takes three to five years for ginseng crops to reach maturity. “So we will have to wait out it out, regardless, because we’ve already made decisions to plant and maintan acreage that that we expected to sell,” Hsu explains.

“What it will impact is the number of farmers that are still around three to five years from now,” he says.

Hsu says the last time there was this type of price shock and decline in the market, the state felt the effects. “Wisconsin went from over 1,000 farmers growing ginseng to today, there’s probably about 150-180 of us. I’m not sure how many farmers and farms you can lose in this industry before we don’t have either a viable or a sizable enough crop to make a difference.”

He says his company is working with farmers to help them find ways to move the crop into different markets or to find different customers.


We’re hosting an “Everything Wisconsin Ginseng” Tour during the 2nd International Wisconsin Ginseng Fest – September 14-16, 2018

international WI Ginseng Festival logo

We Invite you to join us for a 3-day tour of Wausau and the Ginseng Festival. CLICK HERE

(1-day tour also available)

Harvest ginseng

The Central Wisconsin Visitors Bureau will host the 2018 International Wisconsin Ginseng Festival on 9/14-9/16 in the heart of Marathon County – Wausau. This “Everything Wisconsin Ginseng” tour will bring you unforgettable experiences on this pristine Ginseng Land. This tour is packed full of diverse activities that feature the historical, cultural, culinary and farming aspects behind this industry. See Tour Schedule

Call 1-800-826-1577 to register or CLICK HERE for more information!

Registration Closes on 7/31/2018


Central Wisconsin is the “Ginseng Capital” of America due to its ideal geographical location (45°N, 90°W) which provides perfect climate and optimal soil condition to grow the purest American Ginseng. Wisconsin is home to the largest number of ginseng farmers who together grow 95% of the annual domestic production. Ginseng is proud to be the state herb of Wisconsin.

Call 1-800-826-1577 to register or CLICK HERE for more information!

Registration Closes on 7/31/2018

Buy The Most Expensive Mushroom In The World



Hsu’s Root to Health introduces the Cordy-V, a new supplement product line made from Cordyceps mushrooms, in an easy to take caplet form.


The Cordyceps is known to form on the body of a caterpillar, harvested typically in the highlands of China. For multiple generations, people have followed the Chinese and Tibetan tradition using this mushroom for its benefits *

The Cordy King line from Hsu’s Root to Health uses a cultivated lab-grown Cordyceps that is similar to a wild Cordyceps. This product also features an essential B vitamin set of B1 (50mg), B2 (50mg), B6 (50mg) in additional to royal jelly. To see other Hsu’s Root to Health products Click Here.

cordy king

The cultivated lab-grown Cordyceps which is similar to the wild one can now be found in the form of a caplet in a new product from Hsu’s Root to Health.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

© Hsu’s Ginseng Enterprises, Inc. 2018