What is the latest on the Farm Bill?

As of May 2024, there have been significant developments regarding the 2024 Farm Bill. The House Agriculture Committee, led by Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson, has passed a $1.5 trillion proposal. This version includes increased funding for farm safety net programs and trade promotion, along with provisions for specialty crop programs and renewable energy initiatives for farmers. However, it has sparked controversy due to its proposed reduction in SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) funding and reallocation of $20 billion from climate-oriented projects initially planned under the Inflation Reduction Act​ (POLITICO)​​ (Produce Blue Book)​.

In the Senate, a different version known as the Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act of 2024, led by Senator Debbie Stabenow, emphasizes conservation, climate change mitigation, and rural development. This proposal includes provisions for increasing Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acreage, enhancing support for specialty crops, and promoting sustainable farming practices​ (NatSustAgCoalition)​.

The passage of the House version has faced criticism from both Democrats and agriculture officials. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Senator Stabenow have expressed concerns about the House bill’s impact on nutrition and climate-related funding. They advocate for a bipartisan approach to ensure the bill addresses the needs of both producers and consumers without undermining essential programs​ (Produce Blue Book)​​ (House Committee on Agriculture)​.

For more detailed information, you can refer to the updates from the House Agriculture Committee and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.

Mary Miller’s Hemp Killer Amendment

The Farm Bill Amendment introduced by Representative Mary Miller significantly impacts the hemp industry by proposing to ban all ingestible hemp products containing any level of THC, including non-intoxicating CBD products that naturally contain trace amounts of THC. This amendment changes the definition of hemp to include calculations of THCA, effectively closing what is considered a loophole in the 2018 Farm Bill that allowed for the sale of products like Delta-8 THC​ (Cannabis Business Times)​​ (CStore Decisions)​.

If passed, this amendment would result in a federal prohibition of 90-95% of hemp products currently on the market. It would not only affect the cannabinoid market but also disrupt the hemp fiber and grain sectors, making it challenging for farmers to comply with the new THC limits​ (MJBizDaily)​​ (U.S. Hemp Roundtable)​. Critics argue that this amendment could devastate the hemp industry, eliminate thousands of jobs, and limit access to hemp products that many Americans rely on for health and wellness​ (Cannabis Business Times)​​ (CStore Decisions)​.

Supporters of the amendment, however, believe it is necessary to prevent the sale of potentially harmful and intoxicating hemp products to minors, highlighting concerns over products like Delta-8 THC being marketed in appealing ways to children​ (MJBizDaily)​. The debate continues as the Farm Bill moves forward, with significant opposition from industry stakeholders and various advocacy groups​ (MJBizDaily)​​ (U.S. Hemp Roundtable)​.

What does this mean and what can I do?

The U.S. is once again considering prohibition, this time targeting “exotic” cannabinoids created due to previous regulatory gaps and poor policies. History shows that prohibition and overregulation do not eliminate illicit markets but instead harm the legal, regulated market. Consumers seeking beneficial products will inevitably turn to the black market if those products are unavailable legally. Both historical evidence and current events demonstrate that prohibition fails to stop illicit activity.

To protect safe, regulated products, you need to take action. Call your representatives and inform them that you oppose this version of the Farm Bill, as it will drive your products out of the legal market and into the illicit one. If you can’t make phone calls, consider emailing your representatives with your story.

The hemp cannabinoid industry in other Western countries is advancing rapidly, often surpassing the U.S. market. It’s crucial to contact your representatives and voice your opposition to this prohibitive policy.