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Every five years, the United States Congress is responsible for setting and amending the country’s agricultural and food policy, also known as the Farm Bill. The Farm Bill is one of America’s most important legislations. This bill shapes the country’s food and agriculture, rural economies, on-farm energy production, trade and so much more. It influences the food we eat, how it is grown, and the farmers who cultivate it. Generally, we all benefit from the Farm Bill with climate change worsening the threat of natural adversity, farm incomes plummeting and trade wars imminent. The fate of this Farm Bill is essential today more than ever. Here is an in-depth look into the 2018 Farm Bill.
The Original bill, which was known as the Agricultural Adjustment Act was passed in 1933. The purpose of this bill was to form a baseline of laws to support farmers income and encourage the basic conservation practices in food production. Since then, new areas of focus have been added to the Farm Bill every five years ranging from nutrition to renewable energy.
The 2018 Farm Bill, in this case, is bound to legitimize some rather powerful sectors in this area. Even so, a new bill never starts from scratch. Each bill is built upon the previous one where both minor and significant changes are made. In this case, the 2018 Farm Bill is based on the 2014 Farm Bill.
The Farm Bill is a set of law passed roughly every 4 to 5 years. This legislation has a great effect on farming livelihoods. It covers programs including crop insurance, healthy food access, and farmers training to support sustainable farming practices among other important areas. Once the Farm Bill expires, it is updated by the Congress after which it is signed by the President into Law.
As the nation waits for the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, Hemp farmers nationwide are also keeping their eyes open for the verdict. Depending on the outcome, the Congress can either revive a ban on growing hemp or remove it from the Controlled Substances Act.
For many years, industrial hemp was marked as an illegal substance until an amendment to the version of the Farm Bill allowed growing it by state-run hemp research programs. These state-based programs vary with some allowing everyday farmers to grow it, where others restrict the growing to only university research. It is the 2014 Farm Bill that steered in the modern hemp industry by consenting states to test with trial projects in hemp production. This bill gave supervisory authority to the State agricultural departments. However, it stipulated that data must be collected on the program for research purposes. This bill, however, expired on September 30, 2018. The new 2018 Farm Bill aims to enshrine and expand upon these rights in fundamental ways permanently. This Bill contains important provisions for hemp farmers and researchers.
If the 2018 Farm Bill is passed, it will remove hemp as a designated controlled substance. The crop will be legalized under the federal law, allowing Cannabidiol, also known as CBD to be lawfully grown and sold in all 50 states. It will clearly and unequivocally legalize hemp and its extracts, derivatives, hemp CBD as long as they contain less than .3% THC, which is the substance that makes people feel “high.” The legalization of hemp will open the new opportunities for investment. It will provide the hemp industry full access to a full range of financial, market development that they had no access to since it was classified as a controlled substance.
Some of these services include access to banking and traditional capital markets, small business loans, federal crop insurance, and unrestricted USDA research. Private equity firms and institutional investors will be allowed to enter the space since the federal restrictions had barred funds from participating in the sector. It will provide crop insurance so that just like other farmers, hemp farmers do not have to risk their funds or their children’s college resources because of a hailstorm or fire.
This bill will also allow tribal nations to grow on their lands, an opportunity that had been closed to them for decades. Other than the Farm Bill protecting hemp cultivation, it will also cause some downstream results that are hugely important to this young industry, where you are often locked out of the usual ways of doing business.
Previously, if you worked in the hemp industry, most of the services utilized on the new marker were unavailable to you. For instance, traditional marketing channels were closed to you such as eBay, Amazon, Facebook, and Google which do not allow CBD-related ads or businesses. Also, you could not make TV commercials or radio ads. Banks would be hesitant to work with you. This Farm Bill provides clear rules that should reassure even the most prominent and most risk-averse organizations.
This bill will also include a landmark provision for the first-ever official definition of biostimulants. Biostimulants are crop inputs that are derived from naturally occurring microbes as opposed to synthetic chemical compounds. These inputs stimulate natural processes in the soil and plants, catalyzing the efficient use of water and nutrients and helping increase the plant’s resistance to environmental stresses.
For the farmer, biostimulants lead to lower production costs and more environmentally friendly farming practices by reducing the overall use of human-made pesticides and fertilizers. Although these stimulants are already widely in use, they have never been defined from a regulatory point of view. This bill is an essential first step in legalizing biostimulants as an authentic crop input.
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