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Good news for hemp, not for much else in new Farm Bill.

Wednesday the United States House of Representatives passed the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), marks a compromise between the House and Senate, which passed different pieces of legislation earlier this year in response to the #MeToo movement that exposed seedy congressmen and a broken reporting system on Capitol Hill. Village Farms is now working with lobbyists in Texas to have hemp removed from Texas' controlled substance list in the upcoming early-2019 legislative session.

The 2014 farm bill had defined "industrial hemp" as having a maximum concentration of THC - the intoxicant chemical in cannabis plants - of 0.3 percent.

One thing that the bill addresses is the legalization of industrial hemp.

The measure previously had stalled as Republicans sought to add work requirements for almost 40 million low-income Americans to qualify for food stamps. Hemp-based CBD wellness products-a category that didn't exist five years ago-already account for almost a quarter of the domestic hemp market, and the Hemp Business Journal predicts they will account for almost $650 million worth of sales by 2022, becoming the single largest sector of the hemp market. Essentially, the piece of the Farm Bill that matters most to us in the industry is the decision to legalize hemp. While farm bills include safety net programs for farmers, nutrition programs - including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP - account for most of the spending. "I've been trying to make sure the people who get the subsidies are real farmers".

In an interview with VTDigger, Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., said passing the bill gives stability to farmers in Vermont and across the country for the next five years. "The negotiators appear to have achieved a bipartisan compromise that maintains and modestly strengthens SNAP, ensuring that millions of struggling Americans will continue to be able to count on SNAP to help them put food on the table", Robert Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a left-leaning think tank, said in a statement.

Aaron Rydell at Salt Creek Hemp on the Western Slope outside of Collbran Colo.
       Michael Sakas  CPR News
Aaron Rydell at Salt Creek Hemp on the Western Slope outside of Collbran Colo. Michael Sakas CPR News

The bill also provides permanent funding to help veteran farmers and farmers who are minorities.

Passage of the bill has been hailed in a largely bipartisan manner as it provides some financial certainty for farmers, a key Trump constituency that has been hurt by the USA trade war with China, a key buyer of US soy beans and other farm produce.

Numerous provisions worked on by Thune have to do with conservation, and more specifically the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), which pays farmers to not use environmentally-sensitive land for agricultural production.

"I'm very thankful for Alabama to do something like this", CBD oil user Whitney Walker said.

Also provided in the bill are provisions that permit hemp, barley, and hops to be covered by crop insurance. The program will survive under the final version of the bill, aides said.

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