Farm Bill Update: Hemp Farmers Enjoy More Support in the 2024 Farm Bill While Threats Loom

Farm Bill Update: Hemp Farmers Enjoy More Support in the 2024 Farm Bill While Threats Loom

On Friday, May 17, Chairman Glenn "GT" Thompson (PA-15) released the base text of the Farm, Food, and National Security Act of 2024 (2024 Farm Bill). We applaud Chairman Thompson’s dedication to American farmers and are pleased to share that the base text of the 2024 Farm Bill reflects important MHC priorities shared across the hemp industry.  These priorities provide farmers and other small business owners critical confidence to continue to develop the domestic supply chain of the grain, fiber and cannabinoid markets.

First and foremost, Chairman Thompson’s base text of the 2024 Farm Bill maintains the current broad definition of hemp in order to provide critical certainty for American farmers who have developed seed stock and genetics programs based on this definition over the last six years. In 2022 and 2023, farmers dedicated 80% of licensed hemp acres to cannabinoid production to meet the increasing consumer demand for hemp products on the market today. Maintaining the definition of hemp is a recognition that any arbitrary change to this definition will decimate the genetic seed stock developed by the market over the last six years.

Second, the base text unburdens our grain and fiber farmers from unnecessary red tape by allowing states to reduce or eliminate sampling and testing requirements for grain and fiber crops. This concept of cutting the red tape for our farmers has been a priority of Senator Braun and Congressman Baird for many years. We are excited to see the concept moving forward in the House and included in the Senate Agriculture Committee’s summary, although full text has yet to be released.  Additionally, states may choose to not disqualify grain and fiber farmers solely because they have a felony record within the last ten years.

Finally, the base text shifts authority away from the DEA to the USDA to certify the independent laboratories around the country. The original DEA requirement has been delayed since its inception, as it creates an avoidable bottleneck for farmers and other small business owners while protecting public health and safety.

Despite this positive momentum, market competitors are hard at work to eliminate the existing hemp consumable marketplace by arbitrarily changing the definition of hemp. They argue such a change will protect public health (and it just happens to benefit their bottom line).  We strongly oppose such monopolistic efforts and look forward to continuing to engage the Committee on Energy and Commerce, which is the committee of appropriate jurisdiction, to develop a federal consumer safety floor. In the absence of uniform federal guidance, individual states like KentuckyGeorgia, TennesseeIndiana, and Minnesota continue to address consumer safety concerns through regulatory structures without sacrificing end markets for American farmers.

While the base text of the 2024 Farm Bill is something to be celebrated, the Committee on Agriculture is holding a hearing on Thursday, May 23, at noon. You may watch the hearing live by following this link. During this time, any member of the committee may offer amendments to the Chairman’s base text of the 2024 Farm Bill. We will continue to be diligent about possible attacks via the amendment process and alert you to such efforts.

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