Louis Velazquez

Previous Farm Bill Lapses; Pending Bill Still Contains Hemp Legalization

Senate and House lawmakers have yet to decide on a unified Farm Bill for 2018, despite the 2014 Farm Bill having expired on September 30th, The Hill reports.

The 2018 Farm Bill is expected to include language to nationally legalize industrial hemp.

The U.S. House of Representatives broke for recess before Senate and House lawmakers were able to unify the two versions of the bill. Fingers were pointed at both the Senate and House, as well as Republicans and Democrats, for the failure. The issue at hand seems to be the combination of a few provisions in the bill that are political mires — such as adding work requirements to a food stamps program — combined with concerns about the upcoming elections.

Core leaders on both sides claim they will continue to work on the bill through the recess in a lame duck session but there is much uncertainty. There was some talk of extending the 2014 Farm Bill for 3 more years to continue funding farm programs; this would essentially kill the 2018 Farm Bill’s historic effort to legalize industrial hemp.

Existing programs are still funded through December, though the real test will be whether or not a compromise is reached before the November elections. There is a chance that some lawmakers who have been involved in the discussions may be replaced. In fact, if the overall political environment is altered too much, lawmakers may need to start the entire process over again.

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