2018 Farm Bill: What to watch for – from 6 hemp industry insiders

2018 Farm Bill hemp, 2018 Farm Bill: What to watch for – from 6 hemp industry insiders

Hemp farmers nationwide are preparing for harvest, but they’re also keeping a close eye on Washington DC. Here are some reasons why:

  • Congress is beginning final negotiations on the 2018 Farm Bill, which could either remove hemp from the Controlled Substances Act or revive a prohibition on growing it.
  • It’s up to 56 lawmakers who will start work Wednesday to hammer out differences between the two bills that passed the House and Senate.
  • The 2014 Farm Bill – which ushered in the modern hemp industry by allowing states to experiment with pilot projects in hemp production – expires Sept. 30.
  • Congress must either pass a new Farm Bill or extend the current one – or the bill expires. (Outright expiration of the Farm Bill is extremely unlikely, however; the Farm Bill includes authorization for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and a laundry list of other programs important to American agriculture.)

Forty-one states have authorized hemp production, and the stakes are high for the entire nascent hemp industry.

Adopting the Senate language around hemp would remove the plant from the Controlled Substances Act along with any requirement that hemp be grown as part of a pilot project. In the House version, however, there’s no mention of expanding or even continuing the hemp experiment.

Hemp Industry Daily asked six leaders in the industry what they’ll be watching as Farm Bill negotiations enter the final lap:

2018 Farm Bill hemp, 2018 Farm Bill: What to watch for – from 6 hemp industry insiders

Jonathan Miller

Jonathan Miller, attorney, U.S. Hemp Roundtable: I will be watching for something that has nothing to do with hemp: the work requirements for the food stamp program.

That’s where the crux of the debate is going to be. A number of House Republicans are really pushing for stringent work requirements, and that’s a no-go for most, if not all Democrats. So that could tie everything up.

We still feel good about the Farm Bill passing, and that hemp will be in there. It’s fantastic that Mitch McConnell (Senate Majority Leader and sponsor of the hemp expansion) is on the conference committee. There are opponents to hemp in the House, but there’s no one kicking and screaming.

We’re feeling very, very good that once a Farm Bill is passed, it will include hemp.

2018 Farm Bill hemp, 2018 Farm Bill: What to watch for – from 6 hemp industry insiders

Colleen Keahey Lanier

Colleen Keahey Lanier, executive director, Hemp Industries Association: I want to see how this affects the states. A lot of the states are just now starting to make hemp regulations, and this is a moving target. What is the new Farm Bill going to require?

I was chosen to be one of the committee members for the Arizona advisory commission for the hemp program.

This was passed just this spring, and so we’re really trying to figure out what changes are going to come if USDA has jurisdiction over this.

And states that already have established hemp programs, they’re going to be really affected, too.

2018 Farm Bill hemp, 2018 Farm Bill: What to watch for – from 6 hemp industry insiders

Bethany Gomez

Bethany Gomez, CBD analyst, Brightfield Group: If there’s anything in there that would differentiate CBD from the rest of the plant, or saying we’re going to allow hemp for fiber but not CBD, that would be pretty devastating to the industry.

I’m also looking to see if there is any language differentiating whether CBD can be used just like a supplement or whether it has to go through pharmaceutical channels. That will have significant implications for the hemp market overall.

2018 Farm Bill hemp, 2018 Farm Bill: What to watch for – from 6 hemp industry insiders

Steven Turetsky

Steven Turetsky, managing director, Shi Farms, Colorado: We’re definitely watching the overall bill. But my opinion is, we aren’t going to see any rollbacks of the hemp rules we have now.

This crop is pervasive already. You have hundreds of acres growing in some states – thousands of acres in others.

I don’t think this is going away. States are really interested in this succeeding. Farmers who are seeing decreasing profit margins every year are looking for a new crop as a hedge.

2018 Farm Bill hemp, 2018 Farm Bill: What to watch for – from 6 hemp industry insiders

Michael Brubeck

Michael Brubeck, CEO, Centuria Natural Foods, Nevada: We’ve been cultivating hemp and manufacturing CBD products outside the United States since well before the 2014 Farm Bill was put into effect. So we’ll survive, and the CBD industry will survive, no matter what happens.

That said, we of course support seeing this 2018 Farm Bill give the hemp industry here a stronger foothold. Cultivation and manufacturing and distribution of hemp – it’s all going to be expanded, and that’s great news.

2018 Farm Bill hemp, 2018 Farm Bill: What to watch for – from 6 hemp industry insiders

Joy Beckerman

Joy Beckerman, president, Hemp Industries Association: We must be vigilant with regards to the proposed existing definition of hemp. That’s what I’m really looking at.

Do not mess with that definition (in the Senate version, which includes all parts of the plant), and do not add anything further in law that the USDA wants to see from the states.

We’d like to see every aspect of the Senate language moved over, except the felony provision (a ban on drug felons producing hemp).

That’s not to say that this is a perfect bill. But this is a very big step forward.

(Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.)

6 comments on “2018 Farm Bill: What to watch for – from 6 hemp industry insiders
  1. One Legacy Hemp on

    Gailm Rutland:
    Before Cannabis/Hemp became slightly more mainstream- it was considered a felony to possess even very small quantities of the substance, like a joint, for example. Evidence shows that the laws were (and still are) applied more severely to people of color. As a result of these facts- it is clear that they are heavily influenced by racism. It is sad- though not illegal-to be racist ; however, those in decision-making positions who are transparent in their efforts to force these ideologies into our laws have no business making them.
    Making it illegal for those with Cannabis-related felonies continues an agenda which has historically served to eliminate people of color from participating in economic opportunites made available by the federal government which could actually help transform their Communities into more desirable, profitable and healthy places to live. As long as the offense did not include violence or harm towards another person- no one with a prior Cannabis offense should be banned from participating in reaping the benefits of a tax system that every working person is required – or should be required- to participate in. This as well as the SNAP provision should be removed, and a clean bill passed. Cannabis or Hemp can help rescue our flailing nation in so many crucial ways. Thoughtful Reason should be employed here.

  2. One Legacy Hemp on

    I think it quite shameful that certain groups of people are casually being thrown under the bus just so certain others can run with the bounty. We have the uncommon and unique opportunity to get this legislation done right the first time! There is no more time for piecemeal when it comes to fair and equitable implementation of our laws. We are ONE Nation- indivisible- and we must have the Courage to finally make this a reality for everyone; not just make false claims to make someone feel good. Enough with the insanity of racism.

  3. Susan Keymer on

    Lots of confusing information out in the ether. When hemp cultivation receives a thumbs up from federal sources will
    a farmer be free to cultivate, or still be beholding to local
    municipality desires?
    What a switch from colonial times when the founding fathers
    were required to grow hemp.

  4. Michael Whalen, Nevada Hemp Association on

    To One Legacy Hemp;
    Your above post hit the ignorant nail on the head and politely expressed exactly what I truly feel…but I am not so polite!
    As a White man I have been jailed more than a few times for this “Suddenly Chic” Hemp plant. Perhaps this Rutledge douchebag should do some time for Oregano possession then experience the years of bullshit associated with a conviction…probation, fines, lost wages, lost cars, lost time, lost property, asset seizures to name a few…then He should be banned for life from Our Hemp industry…FOR LIFE! Yes, for His love of oregano!
    What kind of guy is Gailim? Let’s jail Him and find out if He feels the same lame way. I doubt it!
    Your letter was brilliant, thank You!

    Sincerely moved,

    Michael Whalen
    Nevada Hemp Association

  5. JAMES on

    Hemp is a marijuana plant, but a different strain that has almost no THC in it, but lots of CBD. Hemp was banned in the beginning, by the Paper industry, which used trees for its paper and, ultimately, its profit margins. Their large money influenced the laws making hemp/marijuana illegal, not because people could get high on marijuana (not violent like on alcohol), but because hemp was a clear solution to cutting down forests to make paper products. Hemp for those purposes are replenished from seeds and endless crops. Funny the radical environmentalists, tree-huggers, didn’t fight for hemp instead, which might have reduced the use of trees. But, the hemp strain, sativa I believe it is called, has a high content of CBD, even higher than indica strains with THC (what gets you high). CBD distillation from hemp is used to make hemp oil, and hemp oil is a strong, non-addictive pain killer. As the government is trying to crack down on opiate use by the medical industry for mail, CBD would likely fill that vacuum. I don’t care about the indica (get high) strain, but hemp should be an ordinary agricultural crop sold for its fiber and its oil. It would create strong farm incomes, help lower costs associated with paper-products by replacing paper as a cheaper cost to produce, and provide help to those who daily existence is one of physical pain.

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