The 2018 Farm Bill, which includes plans to nationally legalize the hemp industry, was supposed to be renewed on September 30. Instead, Congress allowed it to expire.
Blame is being put on disagreements between the House and the Senate, as well as divergences between both political parties. The largest discrepancy is over a House provision that wants to attach work requirements to food stamp benefits under the current Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Democrats criticized the provisions, claiming these changes weren’t present in the updated Farm Bill version passed by the Senate. They argued that these requirements could be a huge disadvantage to low-income workers who rely on food stamps. Republicans openly snubbed these criticisms and more.
“Sadly, America’s farmers have been caught up in the political games of the swamp,” said Louisiana Rep. Ralph Abraham, who is a member of the Farm Bill conference committee. “Each time we think we have an agreement, Sen. [Debbie] Stabenow and Senate Democrats move the goal posts, asking for ridiculous things like crop insurance for rooftop gardens and other urban farm priorities. They have put at risk vital agriculture programs that rural America depends on all to tow the party line and delay as much legislative business as possible in hopes they’ll retake Congress in the midterm elections. The people should not have to suffer because of Washington’s political games.”
How did Senate Agriculture Committee Democrats take the opinion of their Republican counterparts?
“From the start, the Senate has recognized the importance of passing a farm bill on time, which is why the Senate bill moved quickly and passed on a historic bipartisan vote, “ said one of their spokespersons. “The Senate leaders are working tirelessly on a bipartisan basis to reach a final agreement. If House Republicans are serious about getting this done, they should put politics aside and focus on working towards a compromise.”
While leaders from both political parties say they will continue working on the bill, it’s still an issue surrounded by indecision.
While some argue the real deadline isn’t until December, many worry that if not passed that the 2014 Farm Bill will simply be extended for another three years in order to continue funding farm programs. If this happens, the efforts made to legalize industrial hemp in the 2018 Farm Bill will basically be eradicated.
According to House Agriculture Committee chairman Michael Conaway (R. Texas), there are significant differences of opinion on several aspects of the Farm Bill and it’s not just about SNAP benefits.
“It’s not just SNAP, it’s not just the farm bill, it’s not just conservation, it’s not title — it’s a variety of things that we have yet to come to grips with,” Conaway said. “It’s really frustrating, because no one of them — who are actually all of them, in combination — are worthy of us not getting this done. It’s just a matter of having the political will to make those hard choices.”
Conaway goes on to add, “Producers don’t need the additional anxiety or uncertainty of not knowing what the next five years looks like with respect to a farm bill. They’re living this five-year drop in net farm income — 50% drop — the worst since the depression, no real prospects of the commodity prices getting any better, so getting the farm bill done is really important, but it’s got to be important to everybody negotiating.”
He says the Senate hasn’t shown much inclination to cooperate, an opinion rebuffed by a Senate Agricultural spokesperson.
“From the start, the Senate has recognized the importance of passing a Farm Bill on time, which is why the Senate bill moved quickly and passed on a historic bipartisan vote,” said the Senate spokesperson. “The Senate leaders are working tirelessly on a bipartisan basis to reach a final agreement. If House Republicans are serious about getting this done, they should put politics aside and focus on working towards a compromise.”
The national legalization of hemp depends heavily on this compromise, something that would change the grey area of the legality of CBD across the nation.
Still things are business as usual in the booming hemp CBD industry. Farmers, processors, and business owners continue to provide CBD products to consumers worldwide.
Further negotiations are scheduled to take place throughout the weeks ahead. As always, we’ll keep you posted.