2018 Farm Bill Delayed, But Not Because of Hemp
The 2018 Farm Bill is going to take bit more time to pass. The congressional committee appointed to working out a confluent Farm Bill vowed to have an agreed upon and updated bill complete by the current version’s expiration date, which falls on Sunday, September 30. Wednesday afternoon, Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts announced the September 30 deadline would not be achieved because of an impasse stemming from a couple issues that still need to be worked out by committee leaders.
At this time the committee intends to have the 2018 Farm Bill finalized during Congress’ “lame duck” season, which falls between the conclusion of the Mid-term elections and the end of the year.
On the Farm Bill delay, Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts(R-Kan.) told reporters, “I don’t think we have the capability right now to get the scores we’d need to have, or to put this together in a way to be presented to conferees so they know what they’re voting on at this point,” referring to scores by the Congressional Budget Office.
What Is Stalling the 2018 Farm Bill?
For hemp and hemp product enthusiasts rest assured legalizing industrial hemp does not seem to be the issue causing the Farm Bill voting delay. Thanks to nation-wide support of industrial hemp and hemp products, like hemp oil, no congressional Farm Bill committee member has brought forward any concerns about hemp provisions in the Farm Bill. The Hemp Farming Act—that would federally legalize of hemp—still remains intact as a segment of the 2018 Farm Bill.
What is causing the delay of the Farm Bill are differences surrounding two key issues. First, there are significant policy differences about the food assistance program SNAP (supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). The hold up with SNAP seems to be applying, or not applying, work requirements for people who are receiving or applying for the food assistance through the SNAP program. The second issue, as with most congressional agendas, comes down to funding priorities. Committee leaders are still working out how best to allocate federal funds to research, conservation, crop insurance, and animal vaccine bank. And thirdly, with the Mid-term elections just weeks away, campaign agendas and priorities may be an auxiliary reason for delaying the Farm Bill decision.
Does the Farm Bill Vote Delay Effect Current Hemp Legislation?
The 2014 Farm Bill does expire on Sunday, September 30, but state hemp pilot programs created under that bill do not. Those programs are protected and firmly codified in the United States Code (chapter 7, section 5940 if you’re curious). The Hemp Farming Act—included in the 2018 Farm Bill includes verbiage that explicitly prohibits federal agencies from interfering with state hemp pilot programs at all.
What You Can Do?
The 2018 Farm Bill should pass sooner than later, but at this time it will not meet the September 30 deadline. In the meantime, collectively, we need to band together and urge representatives to support hemp’s complete legalization. For representative contact information in your state visit hemp supporter.com or the resource section on NationalHempAssociation.org.