August 20, 2018

Farm Bill Update

U.S. Hemp Roundtable

The U.S. Hemp Roundtable has engaged Daniel Cameron, an attorney in Frost Brown Todd’s Louisville office, to lead its advocacy efforts through passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. Daniel previously served in Washington, D.C. as United States Senator Mitch McConnell’s legal counsel, where he worked on law enforcement issues, telecommunications policy, and hemp-related legislation. Here’s Daniel’s latest report:

The Senate: While delays in deliberations over the 2018 Farm Bill – having nothing to do with hemp – might push out the September 30 deadline, requiring a brief extension of the 2014 Farm Bill, there is overwhelming, bi-partisan support among conferees to get this done in the late fall push before the November midterms. That is especially true for red-state Democrats like Senator Heidi Heitkamp, who is up for reelection and would like to tout passage of the Farm Bill as she tries to persuade voters in North Dakota to send her back to Washington. And on the GOP side, don’t forget the Majority Leader. Although he is not on the November ballot, Leader Mitch McConnell believes that passage of the bill, particularly its hemp provisions, is part of his early positioning for 2020, the year he runs for reelection. Passage allows him to tout that his role as Republican Leader of the Senate makes him indispensable to Kentucky and the needs of the Commonwealth. Indeed, it is unusual for him to lead on a legislative effort, only to watch it languish without action. He has every reason to push this past the finish line. 

The House. Our Congressional sources tell me that while a few GOP conferees have expressed opposition to hemp, this will be tempered by practical and political realities, and personal concern about cannabis will likely not prevent them from signing off on a conference report on a bill that will help so many farmers. Meanwhile, many GOP Congressmen with competitive re-election bids hail from rural areas that depend deeply on Farm Bill programs. 

The President. The Wall Street Journal reported that the president favors stricter work requirements for food stamp benefits. This on its own is not revelatory, but now some are speculating that he might be considering a veto of any Farm Bill that does not have the stricter work requirements. We, however, cannot imagine he would do that with so many members of the House and Senate relying on the Farm Bill’s passage to buoy their reelection efforts. Of course, this president is unconventional, so only time will tell. 

How to Help If you haven’t yet made your voice heard, it’s not too late. Please use our simple portal to send a message to House and Senate conferees to pass the Senate version of the Farm Bill that will permanently remove hemp from the purview of the Controlled Substances Act.