Legislation

New Bill Could Support Hemp Through Sustainable Agriculture and Energy Investments


Great news for the future of hemp!

Last week, the U.S. Senate and House passed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA), a bill that will open up significant opportunities for hemp production through its nearly $40 billion allocated toward sustainable agriculture initiatives over the next ten years.

More specifically, the IRA provides $18 billion to four farm bill conservation programs and another $1.4 billion for the Natural Resources Conservation Service to provide technical assistance to farmers and measure the impact of farming practices on carbon emissions. The bill also includes new extended incentives for biofuels, with about $20 billion in funding for USDA forestry and energy programs, including the biofuel infrastructure funding. Additionally, it contains provisions providing debt relief to financially “distressed” farmers and victims of discrimination in USDA lending programs, replacing a loan forgiveness program for minority farmers that was blocked by courts.

“We’re excited by this new opportunity to demonstrate hemp’s important role in promoting agricultural sustainability,” stated Jonathan Miller, General Counsel of the U.S. Hemp Roundtable. “Hemp growth captures carbon from the soil; the plant uses far less water than other fiber crops; and hemp products like plastics and construction materials are biodegradable. Hemp can also be used for biofuel or biomass for fuel alternatives.”

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement that the IRA "would provide significant support for farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners as they care for our precious land, adapt and mitigate to climate change and ensure America remains a food secure nation.”

Earlier this summer, Secretary Vilsack noted the role hemp can play in this critical equation: “Climate- smart commodities...hemp in construction material, for example...can be sustainably produced; they can be a higher value; they can create jobs in rural communities; they can increase farm income; they can expand population centers in rural places, taking pressure off our urban centers; they can restore life and vitality in our small towns.”

More research and investment is needed to empower hemp farmers in the fight against climate change, which is why we are hopeful this new legislation will help fund efforts for sustainable hemp-driven initiatives. The U.S. Hemp Roundtable will partner with the U.S. Hemp Authority and the U.S. Hemp Sustainability Foundation to identify funding and support opportunities through the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.


Sources:

Rural and Ag cash in (Politico)

House approves sweeping climate, tax, health care package (The Hill)

Historic funding bill for addressing climate change clears Congress (Agri-Pulse)

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