With yesterday’s passing of the farm bill through the Senate, H.R.2 – Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 is getting ready to be sent to Trump to sign and become law. In a throwback to old-school politics of passing laws, senate leaders on both sides of the aisle came together to strip out most controversy, throwing out higher restrictions on the Food Stamp program in an effort to pass something before the ship really starts rocking in January. This bill is expected to pass without issue as it clears its last major hurdle.
The biggest piece of this legislature is the legalization of the hemp industry. This could be a huge boom for farmers, producers, retailers and consumers of CBD and other hemp products. It could also mean a lifeline for struggling farms hurt by the Trump tariffs. How the legalization of the Hemp industry effects the hemp economy remains to be seen, but we’re hopeful easier access to raw materials means less anxiety for patients suffering from illnesses that can be managed using lifesaving CBD prescriptions and products. However, this bill also includes somewhat of a bailout for farmers, which could have undesired affects on our economy and aging food production chain. Here is a full list of changes:
- require farmers to make a new election to obtain either Price Loss Coverage or Agricultural Risk Coverage for the 2019-2023 crop years, which may be changed for the 2021-2023 crop years;
- replace the Dairy Margin Protection Program with Dairy Risk Coverage and modify coverage levels and premiums;
- make Indian tribes and tribal organizations eligible for supplemental agricultural disaster assistance programs;
- reduce the adjusted gross income limitation for receiving benefits under commodity and conservation programs;
- modify funding levels and requirements for several conservation programs,
- consolidate several existing trade and export promotion programs into a new Priority Trade Promotion, Development, and Assistance program;
- legalize industrial hemp and make hemp producers eligible for the federal crop insurance program;
- establish an interstate data system to prevent the simultaneous issuance of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as the food stamp program) benefits to an individual by more than one state;
- increase the loan limits for farm ownership and operating loans;
- modify the experience requirement for farm ownership loans;
- authorize a categorical exclusion from requirements for environmental assessments and environmental impact statements for certain forest management projects with the primary purpose of protecting, restoring, or improving habitat for the greater sage-grouse or mule deer; and
- modify the organic certification requirements for imported agricultural products.