$1.7T spending bill includes climate investments that could boost hemp industry

The $1.7 trillion spending plan that cleared the U.S. House last week could lead to historic investments in climate goals that could make hemp production more profitable.

However, the spending plan is almost certain to undergo big changes when it moves to the Senate for debate, and the measure includes higher fees and penalties that could negatively impact some hemp businesses.

Highlights of the spending measure for hemp operators include:

  • $100 billion from repealing tax loopholes for fossil-fuel energy. Longstanding subsidies to carbon-intensive energy production have been a historic block to the adoption of renewable energy sources like hemp.
  • $6 billion for higher rebates for businesses that install “qualifying electrification projects” that move away from fossil-fuel energy.
  • $6 billion to support new and existing farmers through outreach, education and technical assistance. (This would replace a proposed USDA debt-relief program for disadvantaged farmers and farmers of color, a plan that has been put on hold while courts determine of that program discriminates against white farmers.)
  • $5 billion for Soil Conservation Assistance for producers who establish cover crops for soil health. Participating farmers would receive $25 an acre, up to 1,000 acres. Non-operating landowners would receive $5 an acre.
  • $1 billion for the U.S. Energy Department to research renewable energy.

Notably, the final language left out a proposed Clean Energy Performance Program, which would have rewarded power companies that increased their share of renewables by 4% a year.

The bill also includes some steeper fines and penalties that could affect hemp. For example, workplace penalties enforced through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration could increase tenfold.

The measure now awaits debate in a closely divided Senate likely to reduce the spending proposal.