Have you heard? On Wednesday, December 12th, the House and the Senate approved the 2018 Farm Bill that would allow hemp cultivation and its removal from the list of controlled substances. (Read More Here)
President Trump has now signed that bill and therefore, its’ now implemented into law.
2018 Farm Bill Benefits: Industrial Hemp
- Removes 0.3% and below THC concentrates from the Controlled Substance Act.
- Nationwide hemp cultivation allowed: allows states and tribes to submit their own plans to USDA.
- The FDA will have jurisdiction over the uses and consumption of CBD & hemp.
- Mandatory background checks, fingerprints, and GPS coordinates for states and tribes.
- Banking and crop insurance is expected to be allowed.
Interstate commerce is allowed.
- Drug Felons are banned from growing for 10 years unless they were already growing under the 2014 Farm Bill.
- USDA will have 1 year to implement the changes while states and tribal programs are active.
The Good And The Bad: 2018 Farm Bill
The Good: Farmer’s Livelihood
Farmers and Ranchers Stress Assistance Network:
This program was designed to help the increasing stress and mental health levels of farmers and ranchers to keep a steady workflow.
This program was authorized in the 2014 Farm Bill but never obtained the funding it required.
The 2018 Farm Bill will authorizes up to $10 million per year until 2023.
The USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services are to help and look into the problems and make a long-term strategy to help those in need.
This crop insurance program allows coverage for farmers with a wide range of products like clothing, oils, and lotions or companies with big operation plans.
The new farm bill will include flexible record-keeping and the ability to estimate natural disasters that impact insurance coverage.
With the new Farm Bill, a new Local Food Policy is also being created. The local county or regional government will help farmers and ranchers get into local/regional food systems and easier access to insurance programs. Also, helping with public problems and issues.
Done With The King Amendment:
The King Amendment would have preempted local and state laws around factory farms in particular, but more broadly on state protections for animals, the environment, food safety, and worker health and safety. This was removed from the final bill.
The Farm Bill combines two programs, the Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program, and the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program (FMLFPP) and naming the new program, the Local Agriculture Market Program.
This will have permanent funding and significantly improve the policy.
The 2018 Farm Bill also reauthorizes the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which will receive $50 million per year in mandatory funds in perpetuity, the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service / Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural America (ATTRA), Business and Industry Loan Guarantees Local & Regional Food Enterprise Set-aside, an expands the Healthy Food Financing Initiative.
The 2018 Farm Bill also overturns the removal of Undersecretary for Rural Development that was decide by Sonny Perdue (Secretary of Agriculture) last year.
The bill now requires this profession.
Urban and Suburban Development:
The 2018 Farm Bill also establishes a new “Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Forms of Production” with $35 million per year to invest on urban agriculture research, community compost, and reduce food waste pilot.
This bill reauthorized the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentives Program and renamed it the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (named after a hero of ours who worked tirelessly to ensure that everyone has access to good food). The program will receive $250 million over five years and includes a produce prescription program.
Formerly known as, ‘food stamps,’ the Farm Bill extends funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program without the hard work requirements that were placed in the House version of the bill.
Also, the USDA is to allow the use of EBT devices to accept SNAP benefits from farmers markets .
The 2018 Farm Bill gives the wealthy mega-farms to exploit crop insurance subsidies, enabling passed down generations of farmers who may or may not be farmers to receive taxpayer-funded subsidies.
This will allow the most prominent farms to swallow up all the smaller sized operations making it unhealthy for rural communities.
Farm To School Grant:
Unfortunately, The 2018 Farm Bill didn’t provide any more funding for the USDA Farm to School Grant Program. This could be used for purchasing equipment, training, partnerships with school programs.
It also doesn’t make it easy for school food authorities to get local/regional food and farm products.
The Farm Bill also reduced $4 million of funding from the Community Food Projects grant program. Which would grant food needs of low-income individuals through food distribution, improving access to food as part of a comprehensive service, and many other services.
No mandatory funding for the Food Safety Outreach Program either.
2018 Farm Bill The Good: Soil, Water and Climate
There are a notable number of changes for established organic producers in the 2018 Farm bill.
There will be an increase in the Organic Initiative payment cap inside the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), five million dollars in necessary funding for the accumulation of biological production data.
The 2018 Farm bill will raise funding for Organic Agriculture Research.
Lastly, the bill will include a twenty-four million dollar necessary financing for National Organic Certification Cost Share; this amount was significantly smaller than the advocates had initially requested.
Cover crops, crop rotation, and advanced grazing management will see a payment increase in this 2018 Farm Bill. The bill will also cover brand new study priorities around soil health.
Seeds For The Future:
The 2018 Farm Bill will authorize a National Genetics Resources Program to adopt a National Strategic Germplasm it also makes other vital policies around seed varieties that can assist farmers in navigating through a changing climate.
Borrowing From The Future:
A Short Of Research:
Unfortunately the 2018 Farm Bill did not cover any essential research priorities when it came to climate change it also did not present any baseline funding for future plant breeding studies.
2018 Farm Bill – Equality For Farmers!:
FOTO is a joint program that combines the BFRDP (Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program), an already established program that has been working on educating youth and inspiring future farmers with the Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged And Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program.
A program gives grants to groups that work with farmers of color and veterans and supports them in owning and operating farms.
The FOTO program will permanently have an annual funding of 50 million that will be shared equally amongst the two programs.
Throughout the 2018 Farm Bill, there will be significant revisions to programs in the farm safety net that addresses situations in where farmers of color will not be left behind in any way.
Here’s an example, the bill will mandate a statement every three years on Underserved Producers with suggestions for increasing support in insurance programs.
This section of the 2018 Farm Bill relates to property that has been passed down to various descendants with no presence of wills or estate plans.
The heirs are left without a clear title to the land, therefore preventing farmers that are part of the said property to receive any FSA loans.
This bill will ensure that the farmers will finally be authorized to utilize the USDA programs that will enable them to preserve their ecosystem, and continue to run viable farms.