With OK from Congress, US hemp market set to boom

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Legalized industrial hemp has been a longstanding goal for its advocates, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who helped secure the provisions in the farm bill, saying even under the old, limited rules, his home state of Kentucky saw a $16 million boost to its economy from hemp a year ago.

The lower chamber approved the bill by a 369-47 vote, following the Senate's approval of the legislation by a 87-13 vote on Tuesday.

The Farm Bill still needs President Trump's signature before it becomes law. Furthermore, this confusion has kept some investors (many in the US) on the sidelines. And for the first time in decades, it allows USA farmers to produce industrial hemp, a non-hallucinatory version of marijuana. The federal government heavily regulates and restricts commercial use of hemp because of its relation to cannabis. Though the President has expressed his favor, the final decision has not been completely confirmed until his pen inks the deal so this continues to be a developing story.

The measure was supported by both Republicans and Democrats who argued it was an opportunity for American farmers.

The most controversial element of the farm bill debate has been over differences between the House and Senate approaches to food stamps, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). One in six staffers said they had been personally victimized.


The final agreement on the bill came after Republicans in the lame duck Congress walked back some of their demands, including a proposal to tighten criteria for receiving food stamps that had been championed by Trump.

The Senate version of the farm bill made none of those changes.

Western Kentucky University Agriculture Professor Todd Willian says they've been part of experimental programs with industrial hemp for five years.

The measure previously had stalled as Republicans sought to add work requirements for almost 40 million low-income Americans to qualify for food stamps. But the bill's drafters used the baseline set by the Congressional Budget Office under existing spending levels of $867 billion over the next 10 years, meaning it will not increase the federal deficit from prior projections.

"I am glad that we were able to pass a bill today that includes many positive provisions for our farmers", Sanders said.


Welch said the dairy farm insurance program in the bill will bring better coverage at a better price and will benefit smaller dairy farms of 250 cows or less that are "hanging on by their fingernails".

A provision within the proposed rules prevents lawmakers from forcing a vote for the rest of the year on any resolution that attempts to cut off support for Saudi Arabia in Yemen.

The new bill also establishes a Clean Lakes, Estuaries, and Rivers (CLEAR) Initiative, which is aimed at protecting drinking water and waterways from pesticide and fertilizer runoff.

That is the reason the new bill combines some existing export-promotion programs.


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