The 2019 Farm Bill that was passed just last month by Congress and President Donald Trump. It marks huge developments for US agriculture in more ways than one. In addition to impacting agriculture, The Farm Bill also influences hemp and CBD markets. Here’s what you need to know and the most important facts and figures from The Farm Bill.
History of Farm Bill – How this bill has evolved over time and why this one is different
The history of Farm Bill in the United State dates back to the 19th century when the Agriculture Committees of Congress took responsibility for compiling a complete package of agriculture, rural development, and food research assistance programs.
Policies that incentivize the production of staple crops – crops essential for society to run smoothly – have been in place even before The Farm Bill as we know it today was officially established.
In the early 1900s, The Great Depression plummeted the costs of goods across the country. In response, farmers harvested more ground to try to make up for the lost income. A massive drought coincided with this overharvested land, opening the eyes of the government to the needs for incentives to encourage farmers to not over-produce, therefore protecting this precious resource.
This put into motion the first Farm Bill; The Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933. Since then, the bill has changed, sometimes slightly and sometimes drastically, to reflect the needs of the country at that time. For example, cotton has been eliminated as a program covered crop. Livestock producers have been given increasingly more protections and dairy has fluctuated as well.
Farm Bill Facts
Conservation techniques are continually celebrated in the Farm Bill and incentives for sustainable management of land is a high priority of the bill. Since it’s the establishment, conservation programs have grown to roughly $5 billion allocated each year.
Since it’s beginning, strengthening trade programs has been an important element to the Farm Bill. Trade and agriculture work in tandem to create a balance that is beneficial to the U.S. and participating countries.
Food stamps are yet another component of The Farm Bill. This large portion (just under 80%) is the largest allocation of the bill. The percent that the bill dedicates to nutrition has increased steadily over the years. In 2002, nutrition accounted for 53% of the bill while in 2008 it had climbed to 66%.
Farmers rely heavily on bill granted crop insurance to provide a safety net in the event of a loss of harvest. After trade, nutrition and subsidies, The Farm Bill’s greatest impacts are on rural development, research, forestry, and horticulture.
This Farm Bill has a few differences from previous years’ versions. The bill revises some Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits without shrinking them. It also expanded farm subsidies to help farmers feel secure and provided permanent funding for farmers markets and other local food programs.
But perhaps the most significant difference in this years’ Farm Bill is the legalization of hemp.
For the first time since the creation of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, the Act has been amended by The 2019 Farm Bill. Although hemp falls into the cannabis category, it does not legalize recreational or medicinal marijuana. Instead, it legalizes the production and sales of industrial hemp.
What does this mean?
Hemp has the potential to be a huge boost to the economy, as Majority Senate Leader Mitch McConnell argued in favor of passing the bill. McConnell was largely influential with the passing of this version of the Farm Bill. He believes that hemp production will bring jobs to his home state of Kentucky, among other states.
Hemp fibers can be used to make everything from rope and paper to construction materials and clothing. Its oil can be used in food, replacing unhealthier or costlier alternatives, and to make biofuels. Hemp seeds are very healthy, with ground hemp seed being turned into flour for baked goods and the seeds themselves used as a high-protein topping for yogurts and bowls.
Hemp oil can also be used to create CBD or cannabidiol products. CBD is derived from the cannabis plant, producing many of the positive benefits of marijuana with far fewer – if any – negative effects.
CBD has been shown to effectively reduce anxiety and pain, even in small doses. Unlike typical marijuana which contains THC, CBD does produce a psychoactive reaction and therefore does not make one feel ‘high’. Similarly, the paranoid and uneasy feeling that many experience from THC heavy marijuana is not present. In fact, CBD counteracts any anxiety felt from ingesting THC.
Potential Farm Bill Impacts
While most of the agricultural updates to the bill are not totally far-fetched, the main Farm Bill impacts on everyone’s radar are the impacts of legalizing hemp.
By some calculations, the hemp market could explode to billions in the next decade or so, with the CBD industry growing almost 40% in 2017 alone.
Legalized hemp will open up the availability of CBD, allowing research on hemp and CBD to be more commonplace. The implications of this for the medical field could be monumental. With the United States in the midst of an opioid epidemic brought on, in part, by anxiety and pain killer prescriptions, CBD has the potential to replace those expensive and addictive medications.
Whether you have a serious condition or occasional migraines, CBD is the natural solution you’re looking for. Start out slow with a tincture that can be added to anything or taken as is. Work your way up to a topical CBD product that will help you target pain more effectively. If you’re feeling adventurous after that, CBD waters, powders, and inhalable oils are other great options that you should consider.
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The implications of this Farm Bill to help impact the medical community cannot possibly be fully realized yet. Here’s to hoping for a greener, brighter future with the 2019 Farm Bill.