2018 Farm Bill

An important piece of legislation approved by Congress is the wide-ranging farm bill with a cost of $867 billion over 10 years.

It reauthorizes a variety of farm and food programs. Among other things, this bill provided new help for dairy farmers and legalized industrial hemp.

It also avoided cuts that had been proposed to the food stamp program. This bill is critical to a large part of America that doesn’t necessarily live in cities and towns, but keeps this country fed.

The Farm Bill dates back to 1933 and the Dust Bowl. Whenever prices were low, times were hard and producers needed some kind of price intervention to help them survive those really hard times.

Since then, the Farm Bill has evolved. Now it’s passed every five years and it’s what we call an omnibus bill, which simply means that there’s several bills that are gathered together in a single legislative package that is passed and signed into law.

The 2018 Agricultural Improvement Act was signed into law December 20th, 2018.

There are two million farms in this country, and that number has been decreasing. What’s more, farmers in America since 2013 have seen their net income drop by half.

What the farm bill does is, it keeps programs in place that help stabilize farms. Some of them are subsidy programs, some insurance programs.

But if it doesn’t get reauthorized, farmers have less stability, and these are people who basically are Wall Street traders on tractors every day. Prices matter.

And this bill helps them get loans and pay for and plan their next season. Without it, there’s a lot of instability.

Dairy farmers in particular have been hit by retaliation from the Trump tariffs. This will expand the program that is a safety net for dairy farmers. In fact, it will give them seven times the protection that they had in the last farm bill.

It would allow more farmers to take advantage of that dairy price support. Some conservatives wanted this bill to tackle the idea of subsidy reform. That is not in this bill.

Overall, dairy farmers are some of the bigger winners in this bill.

Another part of the bill that has gotten a lot of attention is food stamps, the so-called SNAP program. Food stamps spending makes up 80% of the farm bill’s funding.

And there was a huge fight over whether there should be more work requirements. The food stamp program reaches 42 million people. But there will be no changes that could mean cuts in that program.

Some conservatives wanted to add work requirements that would have led to fewer people getting those benefits, but that won’t happen in this bill.

It’s a farm bill, but there’s also language in there that addresses wildfires. There are some new provisions — and there have been over the last year — that allow for better use — better guaranteed funding to fight wildfires.

What’s most significant here was that some conservatives wanted to change rules allowing for more logging, more clear-cutting, they say that would prevent wildfires. In the end, those changes were not made, so a victory, if you will, for environmentalists on that part of the bill.

The legalization of hemp

Hemp Farming
Industrial hemp

The very last section of the 2018 Farm Bill is the one that, essentially, removes hemp from being lumped together with marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act.

What does that actually mean in a practical sense? If hemp derives CBD as producing a matter consistent with how it’s laid out in the bill, then it will be legal.

This is a big deal, a potential $20 billion industry. Moving hemp from being a controlled substance, to not a controlled substance.

There’s an oil that is created from hemp that doesn’t have THC in it, it’s called CBD Oil. If you haven’t heard of this, you’ve come to the right website!

And, this is how it all began…

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