There’s been a lot of talk about the farm bill and its impact on the hemp industry. But what is the farm bill and why is it such a hot topic?
Well, the farm bill was first introduced as part of the New Deal legislation in the early 1930s. It was created with three goals in mind: to keep food prices fair, ensure adequate food supply, and to protect the country’s natural resources.
But the economy is always changing, and because of this, the farm bill expires every few years so it can be updated. These updates allow sustainable farming practices to evolve with new developments in trade, agricultural research, and environmental conservation.
And speaking of sustainable farming…
Hemp & Sustainable Farming
Hemp is one of the most sustainable crops on the planet. This versatile plant has been cultivated for thousands of years and can be used to create food, plastic, clothing, and countless other eco-friendly products. It was only a matter of time before hemp was included in the farm bill alongside other crops. And a few years ago, the U.S. finally got around to doing just that.
It all started with the 2014 farm bill’s exploration of industrial hemp farming in the form of pilot programs. During this time hemp farmers could only grow under the guidance of institutions of higher education for research. These pilot programs were put in place to study the growth, cultivation, and marketing of industrial hemp.
The bill also legally defined industrial hemp as Cannabis sativa L. with a delta-9 THC concentration of 0.3 percent or less by dry weight.
These pilot programs were a great first step, however, the bill did not modify the Controlled Substances Act, meaning all forms of cannabis were still grouped together as a Schedule 1 substance. This left the hemp industry to operate in a complicated gray area, but the grip of prohibition was beginning to loosen.
A few years later, near the end of 2018, the next version of the farm bill was signed into law.
This massive omnibus bill covers the legal state of hemp in several areas.
A Natural Crop Like Any Other
First, the definition of hemp was expanded to include derivatives, extracts, and cannabinoids from the plant—including hemp-derived CBD products.
Farmers can now register to grow legal hemp as a crop rather than a research specimen. They can also apply for federal crop insurance and access federal water.
More importantly, hemp was removed from the Controlled Substances Act. Hemp commerce is no longer enforced by the DEA and is instead overseen by the USDA to further clarify the fact that hemp is a crop like any other and should not be confused for a drug. Now, to be clear, you still can’t grow hemp in your backyard like some other crops, but this is huge.
Hemp and hemp-derived products are federally legal for the first time in decades.
The Journey Ahead
That said, states do have the ability to submit their own plans for hemp, and regulations may vary from state to state. Thankfully, state’s are unable to prevent the transportation of hemp across state lines under federal law.
Shortly after the signing of the 2018 farm bill, the FDA made a statement regarding their role in the regulation of cannabis products under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. The FDA claims they are committed to pursuing an efficient regulatory framework for hemp-derived products. Only time will tell.
For now, it’s best to focus on the overall balance hemp can provide while steering clear of medical claims—which is something we’ll introduce to HempLucid University.
If you have any questions, please contact us here at the HempLucid corporate office.