Published: Fri, December 14, 2018
Money | By Ethel Goodwin

Senate passes $867 billion farm bill

Senate passes $867 billion farm bill

He expressed his support for it on Tuesday during an otherwise contentious meeting with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on funding for his proposed security wall along the southern border. President Donald Trump and House Republicans had pushed to create new work requirements for food stamps, but negotiators rejected them. While Congress was fighting over potential cuts to SNAP, the previous farm bill expired September 30.

The Trump administration has signaled its intention to cut food stamps without approval from Congress, and the farm bill does not bind the White House's hands, according to congressional aides. "Many of the headlines about the farm bill have focused on the inclusion of a provision that will legalize industrial hemp-a form of cannabis that contains very low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) found in marijuana".

No assurance can be given as to whether hemp will ultimately become federally legal in the USA and legal in the State of Texas or elsewhere.

One topic especially important to Kansas farmers is crop insurance.

Because it's almost impossible to tell the difference between hemp and marijuana without a lab test, the growing of hemp plants will continue to be tightly regulated, said Jonathan Miller, general counsel for the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, a national industry group.

The Senate version of the farm bill made none of those changes. But the bill's drafters used the baseline set by the Congressional Budget Office under existing spending levels of $867 billion over the next 10 years, meaning it will not increase the federal deficit from prior projections.

Among them is a new National Accuracy Clearinghouse, which would prevent individuals from receiving food stamp benefits in multiple states. It also funds research for organic farming challenges and relieves some of the costs for small and beginning farmers to get certified organic. "We've traveled thousands of miles in the past two years, touching base with farmers and agribusinesses across the state, and we're proud to report that the final bill strengthens our safety net, prioritizes trade promotion, fully protects crop insurance, improves the dairy program, invests in broadband and rural health, and so much more". That meant that American farmers could not legally produce hemp for a hemp products industry worth $820 million last year and expected to break the billion-dollar mark this year.

"I did support those provisions", she said.

The farm bill would give states the power to restrict the growing or selling of hemp, though it's not clear many would.

"I want to thank Senator Pat Roberts, who has been a mentor to me throughout this process and who has now seen through eight Farm Bills, as well as Chairman Conaway for his leadership and guidance".

The passage of the bill is "part of the momentum" in Congress to take up cannabis bills, Blumenauer said.

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