September 27, 2018

Important Farm Bill Update

U.S. Hemp Roundtable

Yesterday afternoon, just a few hours after expressing public optimism about resolving differences in the 2018 Farm Bill, Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts announced that conference negotiations had reached a temporary impasse, and that not only would the self-imposed September 30 deadline be missed, but that differences likely would not be resolved until the “lame duck” session: the period between November’s election and the end of the year. Roberts also revealed that he doesn’t want to consider extending the 2014 Farm Bill because “it gives people the chance to weigh in again and delay” the negotiations, making an agreement a bigger challenge. 

While the delay is disappointing, Hemp Supporters should NOT fret nor be alarmed. First, it is continually apparent that once a final Farm Bill passes, it will very likely include Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Hemp Farming Act in its entirety, permanently removing hemp and hemp products like CBD from the purview of the Controlled Substances Act. Thanks to your advocacy, support for hemp continues to grow, and no Congressman has brought forward any significant concerns about the hemp provisions.

The impasse was caused by issues that have nothing to do with hemp, most prominently the debate over imposing new work requirements for the food stamp program. Second, it is important to understand that while the 2014 Farm Bill expires on September 30, the state hemp pilot program regime created within that legislation DOES NOT EXPIRE. 

The hemp pilot program was established without any termination point or sunset clause — it is firmly codified in the United States Code, under Chapter 7, section 5940, and only will end when Congress affirmatively terminates it. That’s why the Hemp Farming Act contains affirmative provisions to replace the hemp pilot programs with permanent state regulation. And that’s why Congress continues to pass appropriations riders (often found in so-called Omnibus Laws) that explicitly prohibit federal agencies from interfering with state hemp pilot programs. 

State pilot programs will continue to proceed without interruption. All this becomes moot once the 2018 Farm Bill passes, and we could be surprised by its passage sooner rather than later. That’s why it is still so important for you to contact your Members of Congress to let them know why it is so important for them to include hemp legalization in the final version. Please use our online portal to send them a message today.