Farm Bill compromise set to legalize hemp industry and protect food stamps
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Farm Bill compromise set to legalize hemp industry and protect food stamps

Leaders of the House and Senate Agricultural Committee reached a bipartisan compromise and released the text of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 on Monday evening, which Congress will vote on as early as Wednesday. The bill notably eliminates a work requirement for beneficiaries of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) proposed by the House and supported by President Trump.

Another notable change was the legalization of industrial hemp production. This expands beyond the 2014 Farm Bill, which allowed universities and state departments of agriculture to cultivate industrial hemp for limited purposes, and could strengthen the increasing market for CBD oil and extracts, which are used for medical purposes. Currently, 40 states have enacted legislation and are engaged in pilot programs and/or research on the cultivation of industrial hemp according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The final bill also repeals the conservation corridor demonstration program, which incentivized the state and local governments of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia to develop and implement forestry and agricultural conservation programs. However, watershed and emergency conservation programs are retained mostly unchanged.

More commonly known as the Farm Bill, this piece of legislation is renegotiated every five years and defines the policies and programs of the US Department of Agriculture. The bicameral, bipartisan bill ends months of debate and if passed will provide certainty about the future of critical agricultural subsidies and nutritional programs through fiscal year 2023. The final version of the bill still must pass both the House and the Senate before becoming law.